WATERVILLE, Maine — Junior center midfielder Sarah Shoulta’s goal off a one-touch through ball from Pilar Elias with 6:52 left in the second overtime gave Waterville High School a thrilling 2-1 victory over Hermon in the Eastern Maine Class B championship at Webber Field on Wednesday.
The Purple Panthers, now 16-1, will play Western Maine champ Cape Elizabeth in Saturday’s state final at 3 p.m. at Hampden Academy.
The Hawks concluded a 16-1 season.
Waterville is in its first season in Class B after dropping down from Class A.
Just moments after Hermon applied pressure in a goalmouth scramble, the ball was sent to Elias 35 yards from the Hermon goal.
“I heard Sarah screaming for the ball and she was wide open,” said Elias.
“I saw that there was a perfect opportunity. Their defense got caught up a little high so I made a run straight across along the offsides line,” said Shoulta, who had to time her run perfectly to avoid going offsides. “I called for it and (Elias) passed it through. I hit it with the outside of my right foot. There was a defender to my left and I saw the goalie on the left side so I put it to the right side.”
Hermon sophomore goalkeeper Bryanne Crouse, who made several superb saves in the second half to help send the game to overtime, came out to cut down the angle but had no chance on the well-placed shot.
The goal came just a few minutes after Hermon standout midfielder Claire Petersen left the game following a collision in the Waterville penalty area. Petersen had previously left the game for a few minutes due to muscle spasms.
Hermon had the better of the play in the first half but Waterville scored on its first shot of the game when Shoulta’s corner pinballed in the six-yard box and Elias converted for her 45th goal of the season. That came with 19:42 left in the half.
Crouse kept it a one-goal deficit later in the first half when another loose ball bounced to Elias and she had a left-footed chance from the top of the six that Crouse snared.
Hermon outshot Waterville 8-3 in the first half.
Waterville had a number of glittering chances to extend the lead as they carried the play in the second half, but were thwarted by Crouse.
“Bryanne was awesome. She saved a lot of breakaways. She played her heart out,” said Hermon star midfielder Kaitlin Saulter who helped set up Hermon’s tying goal which came against the run of play later in the half.
Saulter made a nice feed ahead to Petersen, who hit a low left-footed shot labeled for the far corner from the top of the penalty area.
Goalkeeper Fotini Shanos dove to her left to make a nice save, but the rebound spilled to her left and Savannah Allain simply tapped it into the net.
“It was an epic game. It was fitting that it went double overtime,” said Hermon coach Adam Leach. “They did a good job shutting off our passing lanes and slowing down our attack.”
“They attacked our middle effectively in the first half so we had to try a new formation, a 4-3-3, and our girls did an awesome job learning it on the fly,” said Waterville coach Ian Wilson.
“We definitely played well. At times we were a little nervous but we definitely gave it our all. Waterville deserved to win. They were a good team, too,” said Saulter, who was marked closely by Jordan Jabar and was often double and triple-teamed.
Shanos finished with six saves on 21 shots while Crouse had eight saves on 18 shots.