FALMOUTH — This one was a long time coming.

Traip Academy won its first girls’ soccer state championship since 2001, turning back defending champ Fort Kent 3-0 Saturday night in the Class C final at Falmouth High.

Kathleen McPherson and Sophia Santamaria each had a goal and an assist as the Rangers controlled play for much of the night.

“It is absolutely incredible,” said McPherson, a junior midfielder. “I know this team for years has been trying so hard to get to the states. And now we got here, and it’s just the most incredible feeling ever.”

Traip, which won its last 11 games to finish 16-2, took control with two goals late in the first half.

The first came on a corner kick, scored by McPherson after Santamaria put the ball in from the left corner.

“It was really bobbling around in the box and no one was kicking it out,” said McPherson, who played the ball off her chest and kicked it into the net with 1:05 remaining in the half.

With time winding down, Traip was awarded a direct kick from about 20 yards because of a hand ball. Game officials stopped the clock because there was no ball available to restart the action quickly. That allowed Santamaria time to set up for a blast into the far corner for a 2-0 lead with 11.8 seconds left.

“To feel more secure heading into the second half, we needed another goal,” said Santamaria. “So I just put my best effort forward and it went in.”

Fort Kent Coach Doug Cyr said his players were confused as to why the clock was stopped. “We still don’t understand why they stopped the clock,” he said. “That took all the steam out of our girls. Other than that, my team did very well.”

The Warriors (14-2-2) controlled the early portion of the second half and hit the crossbar on one bid, but Traip’s defensive four of Emma McGonigle, Cala McEllin, Santamaria and Addy Hale kept Fort Kent from getting any momentum.

Then with 19:45 left, Julia Durling scored on a nice shot into the left corner to make it 3-0.

Santamaria compared the championship to climbing Mt. Everest: “We finally hit the peak and it’s such a great feeling. It’s all that we could imagine. Every single one of us put our best effort out there tonight.”

Traip Coach Kristin O’Neill said it was a great effort all around. “It’s pretty unbelievable,” she said. “And it’s obviously the perfect way to end the season.”

 

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