LEWISTON — North Yarmouth Academy has successfully brought its soccer dynasty to the Class D ranks.

The seventh-seeded Panthers made a two-goal lead stand up over a final few nervy minutes, topping No. 1 Richmond with a 2-1 win at Don Roux Field in the Class D South regional final Wednesday afternoon. It was the fifth straight victory for NYA (9-7-2), which won its 12th regional title in program history and second straight in Class D.

Richmond’s Cole Alexander, center, is flanked by NYA’s Pierce Manchester, left, and Noah Silander during the Class D South regional final Wednesday at Don Roux Field in Lewiston. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

“We all worked hard. It was definitely a team effort,” Chas Rohde said. “Credit to Richmond, they definitely stepped up and took away a lot of opportunities. We persevered as a team.”

Senior Stefan Kulhanek scored just six minutes in to give the Panthers the early lead they would carry all the way until it appeared Rohde had slotted home little more than an insurance goal in the 74th minute.

But Richmond (12-3-1) had other ideas.

First, sophomore Cole Alexander curled his shot home from 20 yards out to cut the Bobcat deficit in half only two minutes after conceding for a second time. From there, the onus was on NYA keeper Alexandre Saul, who made three of his six saves in the final two minutes of the contest.


Saul’s fingertip save parried Alexander’s bid over the crossbar in the 79th minute and then he raced off his goal line to challenge Andrew Vachon’s game-tying attempt mere seconds before the final whistle.

“He’s a hockey player at heart, but he played unreal down the stretch,” NYA coach Tom Masters said. “He really sometimes wasn’t tested, and then all of a sudden we asked a lot of him down the stretch.”

“I was never nervous. I was confident in my abilities,” Saul said. “I was just focused on saving balls.

“I thought (Alexander’s goal) would miss the net. We won the game, so I’m not too worried about that goal.”

It was a brutal blow for Richmond, which hit both a post and a crossbar in the first half of play, but precisely the kind of 80-minute effort that carried the Bobcats to the regional final to begin with.

“I thought our kids did well. I thought they did some nice things out there,” Richmond coach Peter Gardner said. “From where we started to where we finished, I’m just as proud of these kids as any. I’ve done this for 40 years. They gave it everything they had.”


It was an oddly low-scoring game for a contest which produced 35 shots in total, half of those on frame.

For the Panthers, it had just enough goals to send them into Saturday’s state final.

Richmond’s William Miller, left, chases after NYA’s Stefan Kulhanek during the Class D South regional final Wednesday at Don Roux Field in Lewiston. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

“Soccer’s a funny game, man. A lot of times it’s just the team that is lucky enough to put their chances away,” Masters said. “It could have been 4-3 if some of those go in. Soccer’s a cruel game sometimes, and it can really test your patience as a coach and a player.”

Richmond had plenty of opportunities in the first half to crack through for an equalizer before the break after Kulhanek hit them for the opening goal early on.

Justin Vachon hit a post in the 15th minute. Sprung free 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper in the 31st minute, Dakotah Gilpatric hit the crossbar.

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