SCARBOROUGH, Maine — After scoring twice in the first half, the Falmouth girls soccer team knew they still couldn’t ease up against Hermon in the Class B state championship game Saturday.
“The feeling on the field was electric, electric with excitement but also with that tension,” said Falmouth senior midfielder Cassie Darrow. “Hermon is a great team and they’re here for the same reason we’re here and they’re not going to give up.”
Hermon did score late in the second half, but the Eastern Maine champion Hawks couldn’t quite catch the Yachtsmen.
Falmouth held on for a 2-1 victory over Hermon and the Yachtsmen’s third straight state Class B title.
“Hermon worked extremely hard, especially with about 20 minutes left in the game,” said Falmouth coach Walter LeBlanc. “They were looking for that goal, they were looking to make things difficult for us and that made us, I think, a little nervous, a little tentative and a little defensive-minded.”
Darrow scored the first goal for West champ Falmouth (14-2-2) when she took a crossing pass from the right side to the middle of the field 25 yards out. Darrow one-timed the ball off a belt-high bounce and buried it in the lower left corner with 21:56 left in the first half.
“I got lucky, what can I say,” said Darrow, “because my teammates were making great runs off the ball and they made this open space for me.”
After more than 10 minutes of limited scoring opportunities for both teams, Falmouth extended its lead when junior midfielder Megan Miller was taken down in the penalty box and awarded a penalty shot.
Miller rifled it low and to her left, out of the reach of Hermon freshman goalkeeper Bryanne Crouse with 6:57 remaining in the opening 40 minutes.
“We’ve been working on PKs all season, and I take them very seriously,” Miller said. “I always place them in the same place every time, and I’m confident in my kicks, so I got up there and put it in the back of the net.”
The Hawks (15-3) cut the lead in half with 7:29 to go in the game off a corner kick to the right of Falmouth senior goalie Caroline Lucas.
Hermon’s initial shot was rebuffed, but the loose ball was passed back out to Hawks sophomore forward Sylvania Allain, who had taken the corner kick.
“Jessica [Allen of Hermon] hit the ball to me and I kicked it out of frustration and anger,” Allain said. “I kicked it as hard as I could to get it back in there.”
Lucas got her hands on the high shot that was curling toward the net, but the ball bounced off and behind her. Sophomore midfielder Claire Peterson tapped it home.
“The goal was wide open,” said Peterson. “I just bumped it in there.”
LeBlanc had expected this possibility because, he said, it’s natural for players on the leading team to start thinking defensively.
“If you just play defensive-minded and allow the other team to pressure you, sooner or later a goal goes in and that’s what Hermon did. They got their chance and buried it,” said LeBlanc.
The Yachtsmen knew the battle was on again.
“At that point both teams had to be as tough as nails. And I think we were just that,” said Darrow.
LeBlanc didn’t feel that he could allow his team to concentrate on stopping any particular Hawk.
“I don’t think I’d want to say that one or two people on that team were the people to watch out for, the entire team was something to watch out for,” he said.
The two teams fought ferociously after Peterson’s goal as the Hawks tried to get the equalizer, but time ran out on their hopes for the program’s first state crown.
“We tried everything we could to [knock] in that [tying] goal,” said Allain.
Hermon had the ball for most of the last minute, but couldn’t get a shot off.
“Our defense is incredible. We owe a lot to them,” said Falmouth’s Miller.
Lucas finished with five saves on eight shots, while Hermon counterpart Crouse made one save on eight shots.