FARMINGDALE — It’s tough to believe the Maranacook boys soccer team has never played for a state championship, given its history of regular-season success.

That will change Saturday when the Black Bears face Eastern Maine champion Madawaska for the Class C state title. Maranacook earned that right Wednesday by knocking off top-seeded Hall-Dale 1-0 for the Western regional championship.

“It’s amazing,” senior Alec Daigle said. “We’ve never held it before. We want to win again. We want to win states, we want to win the whole thing.”

The second-seeded Black Bears (15-0-2) dominated the action, outshooting the Bulldogs 21-1. Senior Taylor Wilbur scored the game winner 10 minutes, 32 seconds into the second half following the seventh Maranacook corner in the past eight minutes.

“We’ve been working on corners all year long,” Wilbur said. “It’s our strong suit. It went off Nick Lacasse’s head, I think. He’s so good in the air. Alec Daigle and I, our thing is we crash the net, we get goals.”

The ball went from Lacasse’s head to Wilbur’s feet and he tapped the ball into an open right side of the goal. It was the only shot to elude Hall-Dale keeper Brian Allen, who finished with 10 saves. The Bulldogs never got going on offense. Maranacook keeper Brad Worster didn’t have a save as the onus was on the Hall-Dale defense, especially in the second half.

“Every player was quality,” Hall-Dale midfielder Nat Crocker said of the Black Bears. “They play well as a team. Just one corner got away from us.”

Maranacook dropped from Class B to Class C this season and quickly assumed the role as favorite in preseason because of its Class B success. Last year, the Black Bears lost in penalty kicks in the semifinals to eventual state champion Falmouth. This year, the Black Bears kept their Class B schedule and it probably helped.

“They played a Class B schedule and obviously that helped,” Hall-Dale coach Andy Haskell said. “They were the better team.”

Hall-Dale finished at 16-1-0, a year after graduating 14 players, including eight starters, from the team that reached the Class C state championship game.

“We caught a lot of people by surprise,” Crocker said. “We knew that it was going to be tough but over the summer a bunch of the guys just put tons of work into it and we kept on going.”

Crocker and Konnor Longfellow were two of the returning starters and this year clicked as a scoring combination with Longfellow scoring a school-record 35 goals, many assisted by Crocker. That duo never got going. Crocker was closely marked by Wilbur throughout the game and Longfellow was stymied on his only scoring attempt, a partial breakaway in the second half.

“They had one opportunity and Brooksie (Jason Brooks) kind of closed it out,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith. “I think that’s how they wanted to play was try to counter us. Everything worked out the way I thought it would to be honest.”

Maranacook used its speed to force a number of scoring chances. Sophomore Kent Mohlar had two excellent chances on headers, both turned away by Allen. Deep backs Lacasse and Hayden Elwell were rarely even tested as Daigle and Christopher Beckwith did a nice job of keeping the Bulldogs locked into their defensive half of the field.

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

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