HERMON — As advertised, the Class B North girls soccer title match featured two unbeaten heavyweights determined to stare one another down in the center of the ring.

Hermon blinked first.

Freshman Sadie Garling scored an unassisted goal in the 62nd minute and No. 2 Waterville saw it through over a chaotic final few minutes to post a 1-0 win over the top-seeded Hawks on Wednesday night at Pottle Field.

With the win, the Purple Panthers improved to 17-0-0 on the season and booked a date in the Class B state title game on Saturday at 10 a.m. against Yarmouth (15-1-1).

“I meant to cross it, but I kicked it and it curved right in. It was just a lucky shot,” Garling said of her goal. “It feels great.”

This wasn’t the type of slugfest that Waterville has been accustomed to playing in — the kind where it throws offensive punch after offensive punch into the attacking third to pile up goals and insurmountable leads. Instead, this was an affair for the purists, a chess match featuring tactical and disciplined defending at both ends of the pitch.

Hermon (16-1-0) pressured the Waterville back four in a way that no other team had this season, generating 15 shots at goal and forcing Purple Panther goalkeeper T.T. Brandon to make 14 saves.

“The short answer is no, we haven’t been pressed like that,” Waterville head coach Mark Serdjenian said. “Not with the precision that Hermon showed with the passing and the tactics. They’re a very well-coached team.”

In the 76th minute, Hawk senior back Emi Higgins chipped a high floater from the right side of the 18-yard box that froze Brandon initially, but Brandon was able to time her leap and get enough of her fingertips on the ball to push it off the crossbar. Less than a minute later, Higgins again pressured for the equalizing goal with a high, hard shot that Brandon turned away with a diving save at the left post.

“She was the key player at the end of the game,” Waterville senior captain Jordan Jabar said. “Those saves were amazing, and I don’t think we could have done this without her.”

“We knew it was going to be a slugfest,” said Hermon coach M.J Ball, whose Hawks played for the Class B title last season. “It was two very, very good teams. It was a midfield battle, and their goalkeeper came up huge with those two saves at the end.

“Unfortunately, somebody had to lose, and this was our day.”

Neither team was able to score in the first half, with Hermon keen to take away Waterville’s favored option on the attack of going directly through the middle to Sophie Webb. Meanwhile, Waterville’s center back pairing of Jabar and junior Rebecca Beringer kept forcing the Hawks to explore space out wide with little effect.

Capping a strong push to start the second half for the Hawks, Alex Allain got free behind the Waterville back line in the 50th minute and threatened to go one-v-one to goal before Jabar chased her down from behind and made an effective tackle to punch the ball over the line for a corner kick that produced nothing.

“We’re a strong defensive team. Everyone is really focused on defense, and that was the key for us coming into here,” Jabar said. “Sometimes we get into games, and it’s hard to play our own game. We settle to other people’s play. Today, we really played our own game and that helped us a lot.”

It capped a first 10 minutes of the second half that saw the host Hawks push for the game’s first goal.

That honor, instead, fell to Garling, who took an indecisive Hawk clearance out of the box and scored from her slot out on the right wing.

“Obviously, it’s what we needed. It’s great,” Serdjenian said. “You always hope that when someone else opens up, that they’ll come through.

“These girls are a pretty persistent lot. They had a couple good chances, and we had a couple good chances to score, too. That’s soccer, right? It was good.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC