LEWISTON — Aric Belanger may have felt the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he didn’t let it show.

The Maranacook senior, the final player in line, converted his penalty kick to send the No. 3 Black Bears through No. 2 Hall-Dale to the Class C South boys soccer final after 110 minutes of scoreless play weren’t enough to separate the two sides at Don Roux Field on Friday afternoon. Maranacook (14-2-0), the defending state champion, will play top-seeded Waynflete on Wednesday after defeating the Bulldogs 3-2 on penalties.

This marks the sixth straight season Maranacook will play in a regional championship game.

“It was pretty insane,” Belanger said. “It was a tough game, a good game. It’s sad it comes down to this, because both teams played well. It’s a sad way to have to go home, but it came down to PKs and we kept our composure.”

It was the fourth time in Maranacook head coach Don Beckwith’s long career at the helm that the Black Bears have participated in a penalty kick shootout to decide a playoff tie. He’s not lost any of them.

“It’s part of the soccer gods. That’s the way soccer’s played,” Beckwith said. “That’s the way it is.”

Hall-Dale senior Matt Albert, fourth in line for the Bulldogs (14-2-0), floated his spot kick into the top right corner to give his team a 2-1 advantage through three and a half rounds of penalties. Coleman Watson then equalized for Maranacook to set the stage for the final two kick-takers.

Bulldog junior Josh Nadeau sailed his bid well over the crossbar, and Belanger drilled his along the turf and out of the reach of goalkeeper Ashtyn Abbott. Belanger was the only shooter for either side to opt to try low.

“I told the boys I was going to have their back and I was going to put that one away. I told them we were going to move on,” Belanger said. “In practice I worked on that a lot. Their keeper is pretty big, so if I kept it low, it was harder to save.”

“There’s not a lot of practicing for that,” Maranacook goalie Ryan Worster said. “You’ve just got to keep doing it. There’s no trick. You just keep doing it — practice, practice, practice — and hopefully you’ll save them.”

Early on the match took on the feel of one destined for penalties, or at the very least extra time.

Hall-Dale came out in its familiar defensive shell, a calculated measure designed to create counter-attacking opportunities. Maranacook, meanwhile, employed its trademark pace to the wide areas.

Though the Black Bears outshot the Bulldogs 29-3, including 8-0 in the 30 minutes of extra time, they struggled to get those shots on frame against the three center back structure of Albert between Austin Stebbins and Andrew Guiou.

Maranacook continued to press forward after regulation ended, while Hall-Dale was reluctant to open up at all.

“If they’d have beaten us, I don’t know that the better team would have won,” Beckwith said. “They didn’t come out. But that’s the way they play, and you can’t take anything away from that. That’s why they’re here.”

Hall-Dale still produced one of the best efforts at breaking the scoreless deadlock in the run of play, when Nadeau found Alec Byron atop the 18-yard box in the 70th minute. Byron’s rifled half-volley called Worster into action to make a quick reaction save at the right post, one of only three saves Worster recorded in the match.

Maranacook’s best chances to break through came in the first half.

Freshman Eric Vining took a good crack at goal in the 38th minute, with a low shot forcing Abbott (eight saves) to drop and smother the ball along his goal line.

Black Bear Eljas Bergdahl headed one off the crossbar in the 55th minute, and Belanger himself hit the crossbar three minutes later.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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