LEWISTON — A year in the waiting, Traip Academy finally exacted revenge.

The second-seeded Rangers defended perfectly and converted enough of their opportunities to leave Don Roux Field with a 3-0 win over No. 4 Maranacook in the Class C South girls soccer final Tuesday night. Sophia Santamaria, Noelle Denholm and Molly Sawtelle did the honors for Traip (15-2-0), which lost to the Black Bears in penalties following a scoreless draw in last season’s regional final.

Traip will play North regional champion Fort Kent in Saturday’s state championship game in Falmouth after winning its third regional championship and first since 2002.

Traip ‘s Brinley Seward, left, and Maranacook’s Addie Watson battle for a ball during the Class C South girls championship Tuesday in Lewiston. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

“This is very sweet redemption,” Traip coach Kristin O’Neill said. “These girls came ready for this. They’ve been waiting for their chance to get another chance at Maranacook, and I think they took well advantage of it tonight.”

“After last year, it was really tough,” Santamaria said. “This being my senior year, my fellow seniors and I just wanted this so badly. We knew that we could make it this far. Every single practice, every single game, every single hour we spent playing, our hearts were set on going to states.”

In the defeat, Maranacook (12-3-3) conceded a goal for the first time in this postseason.

For the Rangers, it was all about cornering the opposition. All three Traip goals came off corner kick restarts.

“We’re a team that historically has struggled scoring off corners. We had 17 of them (in the regional semifinals) and only scored once off them,” O’Neill said. “It’s been really important to us. We know we’ve been dangerous on corners all year, and it was so good to really finish on a few of them tonight.”

“They did a good job off of them,” Maranacook coach Travis Magnusson said. “Our defense was great tonight, and we don’t feel like they could score off regular play. It took three corner kicks. We’ve got to do a better job of not giving corner kicks.”

Perhaps the most difficult part for the Black Bears to accept regarding their fate was the manner in which the contest played out.

After allowing a goal inside the first four minutes, when Santamaria blasted a poor corner kick clearance under the crossbar from 22 yards out, Maranacook grew into the game quickly and enjoyed the better run of play for a solid half-hour stretch overlapping the two halves.

With Kate Mohlar, Addie Watson and Evelyn St. Germain steering the Maranacook ship in the midfield, the Black Bears had more than enough possession and pressure in the wide areas to be optimistic despite the early one-goal deficit.

Unfortunately, the Traip center back duo of Santamaria and Cala McEllin kept standout Maranacook striker Emily Harper from getting the ball in dangerous areas. When Harper, who was moved from side to side and even dropped briefly into the midfield to find space for herself, did get to the ball she rarely saw a clean lane to the goal in front of her.

Two Harper chances late in the first half were blocked high in the 18-yard box before making their way to Traip keeper Abigail Pitcairn (three saves). It was the ninth clean sheet of the season for Pitcairn.

“We just try to put immediate pressure on the ball,” Santamaria said. “It’s just composing the ball. Not going in for fouls or anything like that, just playing calm and composed.”

The second half began much the same way the first half ended, with Maranacook on the ball, both figuratively and literally. Yet, when Traip did find ways to counter — however briefly — the Rangers nearly always turned that into corner kick opportunities.

In the 55th minute, the freshman Denholm made it 2-0 and 15 minutes later Sawtelle, a sophomore, got on the right end of a loose ball to punch it home and put the game out of reach for the Black Bears.

“I’d rather lose 15-0 and you can sleep at night,” Magnusson said. “When you lose and you think you’re just as good, if not better, you don’t feel good. I’ll be kicking myself over this one.”

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