FARMINGDALE — Maranacook girls soccer coach Mike Morin moves junior Natalie Wicks up from the back of his formation from time to time to spark his offense. It worked perfectly Tuesday as Wicks scored the game-winner in a 1-0 win against third-seeded Hall-Dale in a Western Maine Class C quarterfinal game.

Wicks scored with 6 minutes, 17 seconds left to play, beating goalie Olivia Maynard to the lower left corner from 20 feet out.

“The defender was to my right and I saw it was a pretty open net,” Wicks said. “We’ve been practicing a lot just finishing and passing into the goal, so I looked up and saw the open shot and I just really tried to (shoot) it into the corner.”

No. 6 Maranacook (7-5-4) advances to play No.10 Sacopee Valley, a 2-1 upset winner against No. 2 Madison, in the semifinal game Friday in Readfield. No. 3 Hall-Dale finishes 11-2-2. The Black Bears squeaked into the quarterfinal with a prelim win against Traip Academy decided by penalty kicks. Wicks was robbed of a sure goal with 18 minutes left to play when Maynard blocked her point-blank blast from 15 feet away.

“She’s more of a stopper/sweeper,” Morin said of Wicks. “But she’s aggressive so she played midfield today. If I find a couple of the normal midfielders are having a slow day I tend to throw her into that mix.”

Although both teams compete in Class C, Maranacook played an exclusively Class B schedule in the competitive Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and believed that worked to its advantage.

“I think that helps us a lot, because the competition in B this year was really tough,” Wicks said. “There was Camden and Erskine, and Waterville was especially good. I’m glad we played the B schedule because it really prepared us for the C tournament.”

The game was fairly evenly played, especially in the first half. The Black Bears took 13 shots while the Bulldogs took 12. Maynard and Maranacook counterpart Elizabeth D’Angelo made crucial saves. D’Angelo’s best came against Hall-Dale’s Eva Shepherd early in the second half.

“It was the way soccer should be played,” Hall-Dale coach Guy Cousins said. “Eighty minutes back and forth, up and down. It was probably as entertaining to play as it was to watch.”

The first half was played primarily in midfield. D’Angelo (six saves) wasn’t called upon for a save over the first 40 minutes while Maynard (seven saves) made three. The Black Bears picked up the pace in the second half and held a territorial advantage.

“I think we kind of just straightened out (playing) aggressive,” Morin said. “In the second half, I said ‘hey, you’ve got to play them like they’re the toughest team you’ve met, and they did.’ Both teams played well.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638[email protected]Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ

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