Maranacook celebrates defeating Traip Academy in the Class C South girls soccer regional final Tuesday in Lewiston. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

LEWISTON — From the start of the season, Travis Magnusson has said his Maranacook girls soccer team might be the best in school history.

With one more victory, the Black Bears can make it official.

Maranacook has already established itself as one of Class C’s strongest and most consistent programs. It’s already made it through the always-tough South bracket. Now, when the Black Bears (15-1-1) face Bucksport (16-0-0) in the Class C final Saturday at 10 a.m. at Presque Isle Middle School, they can check off the last accomplishment that remains on the list: a state championship.

The players are ready to make some history.

“We’re really hungry for it. Everybody wants it,” senior back Grace Dwyer said. “I don’t think there’s a girl on our team that doesn’t want it. Girls on the bench are cheering, losing their voices because they want to want to support us on the field, and girls on the field are putting their bodies on the line for it.”

Maranacook coach Travis Magnusson, left, speaks to his team in the final moments of a game against Traip Academy in the Class C South girls soccer regional final Tuesday in Lewiston. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

There are nine seniors on the roster, and many were on the team as freshmen when Maranacook reached its first state final in 2018. The Black Bears lost that game 1-0 to Fort Kent, and since then the team has been driven to get back. Maranacook fell in the C South final to Traip in 2019 and went undefeated last fall but never got a chance for a playoff run due to the coronavirus, so it’s been a meandering path back to this game.


The Black Bears, however, knew from a start there was a good chance the path would lead them here.

“We knew we were special, but we also knew we had to put a ton of hard work in as well,” senior forward Emily Harper said. “We (seniors) knew this was our last chance, so we put everything in we could.”

Given the players he had coming back, a group led by a former Class C Player of the Year in Harper, Magnusson knew this team had a championship formula.

“I definitely thought we had the talent to win the state championship. We just had to work on coming together and building that culture and playing for each other and being mentally tough all the time,” he said. “We just had too many good players not to be in the mix or be the favorite.”

The Black Bears are a challenge for a variety of reasons, one of which, Magnusson said, is their drive.

“We compete all the time,” he said. “We compete, I think, harder than anybody. We’re coming after you for 80 minutes.”


Another reason is their depth. Maranacook has good players on offense and defense, and while the majority of the scoring comes from Harper — who has scored 33 goals this year — the Black Bears aren’t a team that relies on one player. Natalie Mohlar has 12 goals, Dwyer’s scored 10, Lily Caban has five and Addie Watson and Anna Erb lead the team in assists. When Harper was out with a hurt knee, Maranacook still went 3-0-1 without her.

Maranacook celebrates a goal against Traip Academy during the Class C South girls soccer regional final Tuesday in Lewiston. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“All around, it’s just a really hard team to stop,” Magnusson said. “There’s a ton of different players that can do things for us. It’s just a really well-rounded team.”

On defense, Maranacook has a unique player in Erb, who has split time in goal with Kayleigh Kubicki but also becomes one of the team’s best defenders when she moves to center back. She showcased that two-way effectiveness by booting the corner kick that resulted in Ella Schmidt, another defender, scoring the lone goal of the regional final.

To start the game, Erb was in goal as Magnusson anticipated Traip bringing early offensive pressure. He said her versatility allows Maranacook to attack an opponent however it wants on a game-to-game basis.

“She’s really mentally tough,” Magnusson said. “The versatility of Anna has been a humongous lift for our team. That’s been big.”

The rest of the team has adapted that trait. Everyone on the field for Maranacook is prepared to play a starring role if asked.

“We’ve got nobody that hides,” Magnusson said. “Everybody that we put on the field is a player. … Everybody on the field is a major threat.”

The formula has worked so far. Now there’s just one more test. It’s one Maranacook has rarely taken and never passed, but the Black Bears have been eager to get the chance.

“It’s been our dream for four years to get to where we are now,” Harper said. “I think we’re really ready for this state game. Freshman year I think we were really ready, but it just wasn’t our time. I think this is.”

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