HERMON, Maine — The Hermon High School girls soccer team made a statement at blustery Pottle Field Saturday afternoon.
The Hawks showed that they could well be the team to beat in Eastern Maine Class B this season as they avenged a 2-0 loss to Presque Isle in the EM Class B championship game last fall with a thorough 3-0 victory over the Wildcats.
Junior striker Kaitlin Saulter scored all three goals on break-ins off precise passes, giving her nine already on the young season, as Hermon improved to 4-0.
Presque Isle fell to 4-1 and had its 17-game winning streak against Eastern Maine competition snapped.
Hermon was clearly the better team as Hawk goalie Bryanne Crouse was never called upon to make a difficult save. She made four comfortable saves on 13 shots.
“You’ve got to give everyone credit. Everybody did such a good job. We all played our parts. That’s why we came out with the win,” said Saulter. “It was a big game and everyone was really pumped up for it.”
“It was everything I could have asked for and more,” said second-year Hermon coach Adam Leach.
Hermon’s back line of Gabby Bryant, Amanda Allen, Maddie Page and Kaylin Rogers were immense as they limited the Wildcats’ time and space with the ball, beat them to 50-50 balls, made timely clearances and rarely got beat in one-on-one situations.
A 50-50 ball is one that involves a player from each team arriving at it at the same time.
“We sent in a couple of good crosses but their defense played really well today. We didn’t have time to breathe,” said Presque Isle coach Ralph Michaud. “Hermon won 90 percent of the 50-50 balls.”
“Hermon was very difficult to play against. They’re a tough, physical team,” said Presque Isle senior sweeper Kaylee Bernier, who was one of the bright spots for PI with her solid defending, effective goal kicks even against the strong wind and dangerous long balls.
“We didn’t want to let [PI striker] Chandler Guerrette score. We tried to mark her all the time,” said Hermon junior center back left Allen.
Guerrette, who scored both goals in the EM Class B final, attempted two shots but didn’t get one on goal.
“We play a flat-back [formation] instead of a diamond in the back and it works a lot better,” explained Allen. “We don’t give up a lot of through balls and we have everyone marked.”
The flatback has four backs in a straight line across the back while the diamond has one in front, one in back and two in the flanks.
Hermon has surrendered just one goal this season.
Saulter opened the scoring just 4:49 into the game when Claire Petersen sent a long ball from the back over the defenders and she outraced them to the ball to create a breakaway.
“I saw her and she usually makes a run so I passed it to her,” said Petersen.
“[Leach] tells me to get inside the 18 [penalty area] and hit it into the side panel at the near post or the far post,” said Saulter. “That’s what I concentrate on and that’s what I did.”
Saulter found some room on the near post side and slotted the ball with her left foot past PI goalie Meredith Stewart.
Her second one came with just 4:29 left in the half and was the game’s most pivotal goal because Hermon was playing its third game in five days and Presque Isle would have the wind in its favor in the second half.
Saulter was sent in again by Petersen, only this time it was a short diagonal through ball to the left flank.
“I heard her call my name and I know she’s real fast and that she’d get there so I put it through,” said Petersen.
The lightning-quick Saulter took the pass in stride and slid it into the far corner with her left foot from 14 yards out.
“I was looking to score a second one but I just wanted anyone of us to score to make things a little more comfortable,” said Saulter.
PI generated some pressure with the wind advantage in the opening stages of the second half but Saulter iced the game 4:53 into it after being fed a pinpoint diagonal through ball from Jessica Allen.
Stewart finished with four saves on 13 shots.