READFIELD — It’s tough to play the no-respect card when your soccer team has gone 50-0-2 over the last three seasons, but Maranacook has specific motivation this fall.

After spending two years in Class C and winning two state championships, the Black Bears have moved back up to Class B where they’ve never won a regional title. They took a step closer with a 3-0 semifinal win over Gray-New Gloucester on Saturday afternoon, but there’s still more work to do.

“We’re definitely proud of the two Class C championships we’ve won,” said senior Kent Mohlar, who had a hand in all three goals. “But we feel we still have something to prove.”

Next up for top-seeded Maranacook (16-0-0) is second-seeded Yarmouth, the defending Class B state champion. The teams will play in Readfield for the Class B South title Wednesday.

“I truly believe we’re the underdog next game,” senior defender Chris Beckwith said. “I think next game people think we’re going to roll over and that’s just not us.”

The Black Bears dominated the second half, scoring twice, but the first half was much closer. Mohlar put them on the board when he headed in Beckwith’s 35-yard free kick from the right side to the left post.

“We don’t put a lot of time into free kicks,” Mohlar said. “We plan a few plays and just kind of go with them. Chris and I have been playing (together) a long time and we’ve got a sense what each other is going to do.”

Mohlar scored with 17:30 left in the half, but three minutes earlier the Bears missed a great chance when Patriots defender Josh Bouvier blocked Sam Wilkinson’s point-blank shot after keeper John-Henry Villanueva had been drawn out of position.

The Bears outshot the Patriots 5-3 in the first half but that changed dramatically in the second as they controlled the ball and held an 11-2 edge in shots on goal. Maranacook took advantage of its size and speed and consistently beat GNG to the ball.

“That’s our trademark,” coach Don Beckwith said. “That’s what we have to do.”

The Bears made it 2-0 with just over two minutes gone in the second half and again the play started with a free kick, this one from Mohlar, who rang a long shot from the left side off the crossbar. Junior Hayden Elwell gathered the rebound and scored into an open side of the goal.

“They work hard and they’re athletic,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Andy Higgins said. “I think the difference was they scored on three set pieces. They got nothing in the run of play.”

The third set play began with a throw-in from the left side by Mark Buzzell with just under 11 minutes left to play. Mohlar skimmed the ball off his head to junior Max McQuillen uncovered near the right post for an easy score.

“Mark’s got a hell of a throw,” Coach Beckwith said. “But again, why would you leave (Mohlar) unmarked.”

Maranacook keeper Justin Freeman finished with four saves while Villanueva stopped 12 shots.

Beckwith made liberal use of his bench throughout the game with little or no dropoff.

“The most shots we’ve given up this year in a game is eight,” Beckwith said.


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