YARMOUTH — By the final 10 minutes of Wednesday’s Western Maine Class D girls soccer championship, it was evident Greenville was playing for overtime or possible penalty kicks.
It was a good move on the Lakers’ part considering top-seeded Richmond had handled them twice in the regular season. The longer the game remained scoreless, the better their chances.
Richmond senior Andra Meagher changed Greenville’s plans in an instant when she drilled a ball into the left corner of the goal with 6 minutes, 44 seconds left to play. The Bobcats hung on for the 1-0 victory and will try to make it three state championships in a row Saturday at Hampden Academy.
Richmond (15-0-1) will face the winner of today’s Eastern Maine championship game between No. 3 Penobscot Valley and No. 1 Washburn. Second-seeded Greenville finishes its season at 11-4-2.
The goal was the second of the season for Meagher, who was stationed to the left of Greenville goalkeeper Molly Foley (13 saves) when teammate Sadie Gosse crossed the ball from the right side. The ball bounced through a maze of players and deflected to Meagher.
“I’ve been saving that one,” Meagher said of her goal. “We just kept looking at the clock. We’ve been practicing PKs, but we didn’t want it to go to that.”
The Bobcats beat the Lakers 5-0 and 3-0 in the regular season, but this game was much closer, especially in the first half when Richmond held a 9-5 edge in shots and both teams had good scoring chances. The second half belonged to the Bobcats.
“We weren’t really playing the way we normally would play,” Gosse said of the first half. “They were kind of a step ahead of us. We talked about how we weren’t first to the ball the way we normally are.”
The Bobcats won most of the 50/50 balls in the second half and outshot the Lakers 10-0. Foley made some key saves, including a stop of a breakaway by Noell Acord 10 minutes into the second half.
“I didn’t have a lot of time and (the ball) was bouncing a little bit,” Acord said. “I tried to chip it in with my left foot and I got unlucky. That happens.”
The Lakers kept looking to counter attack with senior Michaella Gilbert but Richmond’s defense, led by Haley Murphy and Bri Snedeker, cleared away nearly every ball that advanced past midfield. Late in the game, Greenville coach Chris Fenn brought Gilbert back into his defense.
“I thought that we were fading physically,” Fenn said. “The subs they had coming off the bench made a difference in the game and I did put in a different defensive set.”
The Lakers played well in the first half and tested Richmond keeper Kelsie Obi for three saves, including a diving stop against Shelby Ward.
“It seemed like the surface affected us a little,” Richmond coach Troy Kendrick said of the turf at North Yarmouth Academy. “We were chasing balls the whole first half, it seemed like.”
Added Acord: “I didn’t expect (us) to come out here and get three goals. It’s like Troy said, ‘the prize is too sweet for it to be easy.’ “
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638