BUCKFIELD — There will be a new champion in Class D boys soccer this fall.

Top-seeded Buckfield High School and defending Class D champion Richmond — the No. 2 seed — played to a scoreless draw through regulation and two 15-minute overtime sessions, but the Bucks (16-1-0) out-dueled the Bobcats 5-3 in penalty kicks to claim the Class D South championship Wednesday afternoon.

Buckfield will next play Fort Fairfield for the Class D title Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Presque Isle Middle School.

“There’s nothing that really separated us all season long,” said Richmond head coach Peter Gardner, whose Bobcats (11-5-0) fell to Buckfield twice during the regular season by a single goal. “When you get down to (penalty kicks) you try to put your best (players) in. You practice and practice and practice, and you almost have to look at them in the eyes and see what they’re feeling.

“It’s sad that it has to be settled that way but there’s no other way to do it. There really isn’t.”

Through the first three rounds each shooter converted. Tyler Soucey, Logan Anair and Brendan Emmons each made their kicks for Richmond, respectively, while Ethan Jackson, Sidney Jackson and Jon Randolph each converted for Buckfield, respectively.

Hunter Wiley gave the Bucks a 4-3 advantage to start the fourth round when he drilled the ball into the top left corner and the lead would remain as such heading into the final round.

Buckfield goalkeeper Jake Kraske — a first-year starter playing in his first career shootout — guessed correctly on the ensuing Richmond kick, with Curtis Anderson going low and center-left.

“I was just trying to stop them any way I could,” Kraske, a junior, said. “I saw him look to the left so I kind of figured he was going to go to the left. He shot close to it so I was able to get my body in front of it and stop it.

“…We were all pretty nervous because Richmond is a great team and they gave us a great game. It could have gone either way.”

On the very next kick Bryan Chabe made sure the win went in favor of the home team, burying the ball midway between the left goal post and Richmond goalkeeper Zach Small on his first career penalty kick.

“I was thinking do or die. If I miss, everyone is going to remember me. If I make it, hopefully everyone will still remember me,” Chabe said. “It was nerve-wracking, for sure, because if I missed there was still a chance that they could win.”

While Richmond still had its chance to win in penalty kicks, it had a number of other opportunities in regulation or overtime to pick up the victory as well.

A shot from Anderson in the 13th minute from well outside the 18-yard mark caromed off a Buckfield player and towards the net, but Kraske managed to scramble back towards the right post and make a diving save.

Richmond’s best chances came in the final 15 minutes of regulation. The Bobcats were awarded a direct kick from 25 yards out that sneaked past Buckfield’s wall and got through to Kraske, but once again the Bucks’ goalkeeper was there for the diving stop.

The Bobcats also drew a series of four corner kicks in a five-minute span, yet in each instance they could not find the back of the net.

“We gave ourselves some nice chances at the end of the game,” Gardner said.

Buckfield also had its fair share of chances in regulation, but a combination of great defensive play — particularly from Soucey, a sweeper — and strong goaltending from Small kept the Bucks scoreless.

Buckfield very nearly won it with four minutes remaining in the first overtime on a shot from 40 yards out from Randolph, but Small fully extended and tipped the ball over the crossbar for the save. Small finished with eight saves for the Bobcats, while Kraske made 15 for the Bucks.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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