READFIELD — For a five-minute span early in the second half Saturday night, the Maranacook boys soccer team nearly fell apart as North Yarmouth Academy eviscerated a 2-0 deficit and threatened to take control of a Western C semifinal at Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams.

“Of course we were a little worried,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said. “But we had to come back.”

Senior forward Alec Daigle scored the eventual game-winning goal with 18 minutes, 58 seconds left in the second half to propel No. 2 Maranacook past No. 3 NYA 3-2 in a physical and thrilling game before a boisterous crowd.

Maranacook (14-0-2) will play at top-seeded Hall-Dale (16-0-0) in the regional final at 2 p.m., Wednesday. NYA finished 15-1-0.

“We are exactly where we’re supposed to be,” Beckwith said. “We didn’t do anything extraordinary tonight. We are right where we are supposed to be. We showed a lot of character coming back like that.”

Maranacook led 2-0 on goals by Kodey Solmitz and Daigle before the Panthers rallied to pull even.

DJ Nichols ripped a shot into the far corner past Maranacook keeper Brad Worster with 23:42 left in regulation to make it a 2-1 game. Then, Michael McIntosh tied it 1:31 later when he converted a rebound off a Nicholas shot.

The goal stunned the Maranacook faithful and ignited the NYA bench.

“We had the momentum,” NYA coach Martyn Keen said. “As soon as we tied it up, we were thinking we were OK. We had it.”

Only the Panthers didn’t.

Just a little more than two minutes later, Daigle corralled a loose ball about eight yards in front of the NYA net and ripped a shot past senior keeper Austin Kidder to give Maranacook a 3-2 lead.

“The ball skimmed right to me,” Daigle said, “and I just drilled it. It skimmed off a teammate and I was right there. I had to hit it in and I did. When they had tied it up, we were thinking, ‘this should not happen.’ It was great to come back so quick.”

Added Solmitz: “My heart dropped when they tied it up. It was unbelievable. But I knew as long as we didn’t panic we would come back.”

Worster and the Black Bears defense shut down the Panthers the rest of the way to preserve the victory.

“We got two in like a minute but then we blew it,” Keen said. “We didn’t defend in the corner and that’s what hurt us.”

Maranacook jumped out first when Solmitz scored with 20:44 left in the half.

“I don’t use my left foot often but I decided to go with it,” he said. “When I got the ball, I figured I might as well go with it and I hit into the upper left corner. It set the tempo for the game.”

The score stayed that way until Daigle made it 2-0 when he pounced on a loose ball by fallen NYA keeper Kidder and buried a shot to the far corner of a wide open net six minutes into the second half.

Kidder appeared to have control of the ball, but it squirted out to the side as Daigle bore down on him

“The ball rolled underneath him and then I just got it,” Daigle said. “It was sitting right there and I just knocked it in.”

Maranacook out-shot NYA 13-8. Worster finished with five saves while Kidder had nine.

“We haven’t been here before so this is pretty awesome,” Daigle said. “Hopefully, we aren’t done yet.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640[email protected]Twitter: @billstewartkj

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