June 24, 2018
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Sophomore Saulter has been catalyst in Hermon’s title quest

John Clarke Russ | BDN
John Clarke Russ | BDN
Hermon's Kaitlin Saulter (right) gets ready to head the ball while John Bapst's Lily Slazas applies pressure during a game earlier this season. Second-seeded Hermon travels to Presque Isle today to take on the top-ranked Wildcats for the Eastern Maine Class B final at 4 p.m.
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

Kaitlin Saulter won the state 400-meter run last spring in a Class B record time of 58 seconds.

She was a freshman.

It was the fourth time she had ever run the event.

Saulter is equally talented in soccer and she hopes to lead her 13-2-1 Hermon High School Hawks, the second seed, to an Eastern Maine B title on Wednesday when they play the rubber match against top seed Presque Isle (14-1-1) in Presque Isle at 4 p.m.

The teams split their regular season games, Hermon triumphed in Presque Isle 3-2 and Presque Isle notched a 2-0 win at Hampden Academy when Hermon’s field was waterlogged.

In the other Eastern Maine championship games, Brunswick would love to avenge last year’s 2-1 home loss to Bangor in the Class A regional title game as it ended the Dragons’ 36-game winning streak. The top-seeded Rams, 16-0, will face 15-1 Brunswick at Husson University’s Boucher Field at 3:30 p.m.

Orono, 12-3-1, will seek its third state Class C championship game berth in four years when it travels to Corinth for a matchup with 15-0-1 Central at 2:30 p.m.

In Class D, the Van Buren Crusaders, 11-5, will look to defend its EM crown when it treks to Howland for a 2 p.m game against the upstart 13-1-2 Penobscot Valley Howlers.

“I’m very excited,” said Saulter. “This is the first time Hermon has been in an Eastern Maine (soccer) championship game in quite a while.”

Hermon’s only previous EM title-game appearance came in 1994.

Saulter, a striker, is Hermon’s leading scorer with 14 goals and nine assists.

She has had more assists than goals in recent weeks as she has been getting a lot of attention from opposing marking backs including Presque Isle’s Karlee Bernier and Hillary Albert.

“I’m very proud of her,” said Hermon coach Adam Leach. “She scored the bulk of her goals early and as teams started keying on her, she has become more of a playmaker.”

The 15-year-old Saulter is quick and she has the exceptional ball skills to go with it thanks to her time spent with the Bangor and Hampden travel soccer programs, Blackbear United and the Olympic Development Program.

“She reads the play well so she always gets a jump and that only adds to her speed,” said Leach.

And even though Saulter is just 5-foot-4, 110 pounds, Leach said she is “extremely strong” on the ball.

“Playing for Blackbear United has helped me a lot,” said Saulter. “We played in West Virginia a couple of times and the play was physical so I learned how to play physical and how to shield the ball.”

She said she has also benefited from being a year older.

“Last year, I was a freshman and wasn’t used to the level of play. The girls were a lot bigger and older than me,” said Saulter, who had eight goals a year ago, “This year, I’m stronger than I was and I’m used to the level of play. I also know more about the other teams, how they play and who their really good players are.”

She knows she is going to be marked closely but takes it in stride.

“It’s a challenge,” she said. “I have to play a different style. I have to be strong on the ball. So it probably helps me.”

She doesn’t mind being more of a distributor than a goal scorer.

“I’ve always been a pretty unselfish player. I’ll pass the ball and I’ll also try to take the ball to the net when I can,” said Saulter who expects a dogfight with the Wildcats.

“We’re going to have to possess the ball and make quick little passes to get around them,” said Saulter, who had two goals in the 3-2 win.

Sweeper Chelsea Nickerson anchors the PI back line that has helped the Wildcats post 12 shutouts. Goalkeeper Meredith Stewart has been stellar, also.

Hermon beat Old Town (3-0) and Caribou (1-0) to advance to the final while PI, winner of 12 straight, beat John Bapst of Bangor and Oceanside of Rockland by 2-1 scores.

In the Class A game, Brunswick, a 5-1 loser to Bangor during the regular season, will try to neutralize Bangor’s dynamic striker tandem of Ashley Robinson and Grace Maclean.

Bangor has reached the final by beating Lawrence of Fairfield (7-0) and Waterville (5-0) while Brunswick topped Hampden Academy 6-1 and Oxford Hills of South Paris 5-0.

The Orono defense, headed up by Caleigh Paul, will try to shut down high-scoring Max McHugh and the Red Devils. Orono beat Houlton (2-1) and Fort Kent (4-2) to reach the final while Central topped Bucksport (1-0) and Madawaska (3-1).

Van Buren returns to the “D” final after beating Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook (4-1) and upsetting top seed Washburn (2-1 in overtime) while Penobscot Valley had a pair of shutout wins: 4-0 over Central Aroostook of Mars Hill and 1-0 over Fort Fairfield.

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