RICHMOND — Troy Kendrick’s Richmond soccer team showed its winning ways long before shutting out Ashland, 1-0, on Saturday for its first Class D state championship since 2012.

The Bobcats showed support for their community and one of their teammates during their 16-1-0 season, joining the boys team in a 5K run that raised money for a family in town that is down on its luck and wearing pink ribbons all season for freshman Emma Carbone’s mother, Janna Prout, as she battles breast cancer.

“This was already a special group of kids when you talk about things like character and what’s on the inside,” said Kendrick, who now has 10 state titles in his 27 years coaching the Bobcats.

The people of Richmond will thank the Bobcats with a reception and a firetruck escort through town starting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the high school.

The team, some of who stayed behind in Presque Isle with their families late Saturday night, reached the high school at 11 p.m. Saturday after a four-and-a-half hour bus trip that had left the school at 7:30 that morning.

“It wasn’t that bad of a ride,” Kendrick said. “I was dreading it if we had lost.”

The Bobcats went into the defending state champions’ virtual back yard and avenged a 2-1 loss in overtime last year. The Hornets had much of their roster from last year still intact, which meant they presented a lot of speed and scoring options for their challengers to consider.

Richmond’s plan to end Ashland’s 35-game winning streak was simple — play keepaway.

“We were possessing the ball, trying to hang onto it, make short passes,” Kendrick said. “We did a good job of keeping the ball outside.”

“I can’t say enough about how hard the kids worked. I thought we outworked them for 80 minutes,” he added.

The Bobcats were working against the Hornets and the wind for the first half. Kendrick said his team started to take control in the last eight-to-10 minutes of the half, keeping the Hornets pinned in their own end.

They kept the momentum rolling in the second half with the wind in their favor. Senior co-captain Kelsea Anair just missed the game’s first goal — which also would have been a school career record — five minutes in with a shot that hit off the bottom of the crossbar.

About 10 minutes in, junior Meranda Martin took advantage of an open net after Ashland goalie Megan Cote went to the ground during a scrum in front of the goal and broke the tie.

With the lead, Kendrick adjusted his formation, subbing a midfielder for another back on defense.

“I said 30 minutes is a long time, but we’re going to play some defense,” Kendrick said.

Juniors Camryn Hurley and Cassidy Harriman led the defense as stopper and sweeper and joined senior Kyla Johansen and freshman Caitlin Kendrick in allowing just two shots on sophomore goalie Sydney Tilton. Senior Jade Gammon helped Martin, Anair, co-captain Autumn Acord and sophomores Destiny Anair and Molly Meagher maintain possession and marked Ashland’s star sophomore forward, Mackenzie Carter.

“She just blanketed her. That kid was really frustrated by the second half,” Kendrick said.

The Bobcats weren’t merely playing prevent defense, though. They took advantage of chances to tilt the field whenever they could, with the understanding that everyone had to be ready to fall back quickly.

“Defense wins championships, team defense,” Coach Kendrick said. “It starts with the midfielders and attackers possessing the ball. That makes it easier on the defense — defending 75 yards away from your goal.”

The final seconds ticked off and a “decent (Richmond) crowd considering how far they had to travel” joined the team in celebrating their fourth gold ball in six years.

That trophy stayed in Presque Isle on Saturday night with captain Anair and her family, who dropped it off at Kendrick’s house on Sunday. Kendrick took it to the high school Monday morning for display in the main office window and wondered where the fall has gone.

“It’s one of those seasons that’s scooted right by,” Kendrick said. “It’s a fun year if it goes by this fast.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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