The Maranacook girls soccer team celebrates a 5-0 win over Bucksport in the Class C state championship game Saturday in Presque Isle. Mike Mandell/Mount Desert Islander

For the first time in program history, the Maranacook girls soccer team is a state champion.

Led by a pair of goals from team-leading scorer Emily Harper, the Black Bears blanked Bucksport 5-0 on Saturday morning at Presque Isle Middle School in their first appearance in a Class C state final since 2018. Grace Dwyer, Addie Watson and Ella Schmidt also scored for Maranacook (16-1-1).

“I think we’re all still in shock,” said Harper, the 2020 Class C Player of the Year, who finished her senior season with 35 goals despite missing time mid-year due to injury. “This is such a huge accomplishment. We worked hard for the last four years for this, and it feels amazing.”

The loss was the first of the season for Bucksport (17-1-0), which was also seeking its program’s first state title. The Golden Bucks allowed more than two goals in a game only once this season prior to Saturday — and never more than three.

Maranacook looked intent from the outset on cracking the Bucks’ back line. The Black Bears fired out of the starting blocks with a pair of chances in the opening 10 minutes before Harper and Dwyer scored five minutes apart midway through the first half.

Harper finished off a feed from Anna Erb, who only minutes earlier had been substituted out of the Maranacook goalkeeping duties, and Dwyer’s quick restart on a free kick from 20 yards in the 21st minute sent the two-time southern regional champions into halftime with a 2-0 lead.

Maranacook senior back Ella Schmidt (15) tries to take the ball from a Bucksport defender during the Class C state title game Saturday at Presque Isle Middle School. Mike Mandell/Mount Desert Islander

The two goals were welcome respite for Maranacook, which produced 12 first-half shots — though managing to put only four of them on frame.

“After we scored that second goal, we realized we had a lot of momentum built up,” Erb said. “I think that just got us really energized.”

Bucksport tried to apply some pressure in the early stages of the second half, but Maranacook was much more clinical in the attacking third after the break. The Black Bears pulled away with strikes from Watson, Harper and Schmidt in the 58th, 69th and 74th minutes, respectively.

Bucksport freshman keeper Jetta Shook was busy, making nine saves, including seven in the second half.

Maranacook senior striker Emily Harper tries to get around Bucksport defender Alyx Frazell during the Class C state title game Saturday at Presque Isle Middle School. Mike Mandell/Mount Desert Islander

The workload was considerably lighter at the other end for Erb and fellow keeper Kayleigh Kubicki, with the Maranacook duo required to make just three saves between them for the team’s fourth shutout of the postseason and 13th clean sheet of the season.

“Worked on defense all year,” said Erb, put spent 30 of the 80 minutes between the sticks. “I think we just got super solid at knowing where our marks were and communicating with each other.”

“I knew our team was going to play our best,” Maranacook coach Travis Magnusson added. “They were so focused during this playoff run. In pressure situations, they care about each other so much, they’re going to get job done no matter what it takes.”

It was Harper’s second goal of the day, an impressive individual effort to dribble through four defenders in the Bucksport 18-yard box before casually rolling the ball over the goal line with her right foot, which provided the final blow to any Bucks’ comeback hopes.

“I thought that was the clincher,” Magnusson said. “It was a deflating goal, and it was really impressive. We were like that all day today, honestly. We were making good passes, good cuts. The girls deserve this.”

“I thought about (the goals) this season, but it wasn’t the first thing on my mind,” Harper added. “Winning states was always the first thing on my mind, and the goals were just an extra.”

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