HAMPDEN — It was a tale of two halves and streaky play, but a lone goal proved to be the difference in the state Class B girls soccer championship as Falmouth downed Presque Isle 1-0 Saturday morning on the artificial turf of Hampden Academy.
The first 10 minutes of the match were full of end-to-end play, with both sides evenly matched, but from the 30-minute mark of the first half the Yachtsmen turned up their offensive pressure and had several good scoring opportunities.
They finally broke through with a goal by junior Alex Bernier scored off a cross by fellow junior Caitlin Bucksbaum with about seven minutes left in the half. Bernier received the pass about 8 yards in front of the goal and sent it into the side of the net, just past the outstretched arms of Wildcat keeper junior Meredith Stewart.
“I thought we started the game with a purpose and conviction,” said Falmouth coach Wally LeBlanc. “It could have gone either way. We got a goal and they didn’t. I can’t say it was something spectacular we did. It was a hard-fought battle.”
Falmouth (13-4-1) had a 7-1 edge in shots on goal and took the only four corner kicks of the first half.
Presque Isle (14-2-1) came out in the second half with added energy and controlled much of the play, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
The Wildcats’ best opportunity came about 4 1/2 minutes into the second half when sophomore Shea Brown received a chip into the box and fired at the goal, only to have the Falmouth ‘keeper, junior Caroline Lucas, make a jumping save.
“I’m proud of the fight Presque Isle gave us,” LeBlanc said. “I’m glad about the resilience my girls had not to give up that goal.”
“That last 40 minutes of the game is the most proud I have ever been about a group of kids,” said Presque Isle coach Ralph Michaud. “We just put the pressure on them but couldn’t squeak one through.”
The Wildcats got off eight quality shots in the second half.
Presque Isle senior Chelsea Nickerson, who played sweeper for most of the game but moved to wing in the last three minutes as the Wildcats looked for the equalizing goal, said she is proud of the way Presque Isle kept fighting back in the contest.
“We put 100 percent into the game and left everything on the field,” she said. “This was a great senior year and I am so proud of everyone.”
This is the second consecutive state championship for the Falmouth girls, but this one was with a new coach, Leblanc, and several new players. The team that beat the Caribou Vikings last year graduated 10 seniors.
“We weren’t sure we could get back to this (the state final), but I am so proud of the girls for getting back to the state championship,” said LeBlanc.