PRESQUE ISLE – Chandler Guerrette remembers very well her Presque Isle team’s low point of the 2011 season – a 3-2 loss to the Hermon Hawks on Sept. 10.
The Wildcats led that contest, played at home, by two goals midway through the second half, only to see the Hawks storm back for the victory by scoring twice in the final three minutes of regulation.
“We knew we shouldn’t have let them win that game the way they did and from then on, we always played with a chip on our shoulder — like we had something to prove to everybody,” said the junior forward.
It was the Wildcats’ only loss of the season and they went on to win 13 consecutive matches (surrendering a total of three goals during the streak), including Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over the Hawks in the Eastern Maine Class B championship.
Guerrette scored both goals, one in each half, and the Presque Isle defense continued its dominant play as the squad, now 15-1-1, advances to Saturday’s state title match to be played at 10 a.m. in Hampden.
The first goal came with just under two minutes remaining in the opening half. Senior Kayla Richards hit a shot from the left side, 15 yards out, that went wide of Hermon goalkeeper Mikayla Treadwell but to the feet of an opportunistic Guerrette, who tapped the ball in from directly in front of the goal.
“It was my easiest goal of the season actually,” Guerrette said.
Less than seven minutes into the second half, Presque Isle struck again after senior sweeper Chelsea Nickerson lobbed the ball into the penalty area, over the head of Treadwell, and Guerrette collected it at the goal line and shot it into the net, uncontested.
“Chandler has gotten so much stronger and she doesn’t get knocked off the ball,” said Presque Isle coach Ralph Michaud. “They were both great hustle goals and she wasn’t going to be denied.”
The Wildcats finished with 13 shot attempts but secured the victory behind its stingy defense, which held the Hawks scoreless for only the second time all season – both times against PI.
“They are easily the best defensive squad that we see all year long,” said Hermon coach Adam Leach. “They really make you have to play quick and play short. They are very athletic and very strong and they just wore us out.”
The Hawks (13-3-1) mustered just eight shots all game long, with only a couple of quality chances, one of them on a blast ripped over the crossbar by sophomore Kaitlin Saulter with 3:15 left.
Nickerson spearheaded the Wildcat defense in front of junior goalkeeper Meredith Stewart (five saves), with fellow starters Kailey Shaw, Karlee Bernier and Hillary Albert also playing key roles along with reserves Krystal Kingsbury and Emma Bartlett.
The regional championship is Presque Isle’s second in four years, and Michaud said it was very satisfying to bounce back after the difficult lone regular-season loss almost two months ago.
“That loss smartened everybody up, including me, and we’ve been busting our tail since then,” said the 14th-year coach. “These seniors we have played like it was their last chance. They were ready.”