HERMON, Maine — Presented an opportunity with her team’s season on the line, Alex Allain wasn’t about to let it slip away.
The Hermon High School senior pounced on a loose ball deep in the Presque Isle end late in the second half, and knew just what to do with it, firing it into the top corner of the goal to snap a 1-1 tie and lift the top-ranked Hawks to a 2-1 Class B North girls soccer semifinal win over the fifth-seeded Wildcats at Pottle Field on Tuesday.
“I saw it coming out to me and I just caught it with my left foot,” said Allain, whose 16-0 Hawks will take on No. 2 Waterville for the regional championship at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Hermon.
Presque Isle finishes the season 11-4-2.
Perhaps what was even more remarkable about Allain’s shot is the talented striker is right-footed.
Allain, who was unmarked about 20 yards from the goal, took one touch, turned and fired a rocket that Presque Isle goalkeeper Savannah Rodriguez had no chance on.
“If you’re going to win on a shot like that, that’s the way to do it,” Hermon coach M.J. Ball said.
Allain gained a small bit of redemption after she was stuffed on a first-half breakaway by Rodriguez, in which the Wildcat sophomore came off her line to prevent Allain from finishing a run to goal down the middle.
“They’re always out to get us,” Allain said. “We’ve beaten them in the semis for the past four years. They’re our number one rivals in every sport.
Rodriguez would deny several Hermon scoring threats in the opening half before Maddisyn Curtis finally broke through with 17:36 remaining.
The sequence started with Allain working the ball into the corner and finding Curtis open for the game’s first goal.
“When Alex has the ball in the corner I know just to get straight to the goal,” Curtis said. “I got it and just turned and shot it.”
Even though Hermon had the better of the high-percentage chances throughout the match, Presque Isle took advantage of one of its own early in the second half to even things up, with Madison Michaud walking in unmarked along the left side and beating Hawks goalkeeper Megan Chamberlain to the far post.
Coach Ralph Michaud’s Wildcats did have a couple of solid chances on subsequent sequences, but the Hermon midfielders, its back line and Chamberlain were able to keep Presque Isle at bay.
“They just kept pushing us, pushing us until the last minute,” Allain said.
Hermon’s midfield tandem of Bri Saulter, Olivia Tardie and Emma Allmon did an exceptional job of winning 50-50 balls and re-establishing control to Hermon soon after the Wildcats tied it.
The Hawks would finally be rewarded with 19:16 left in regulation, as an attempted clear found the unmarked Allain, and she did the rest.
“That last goal we made a little bit of a mistake not clearing it wide,” said coach Michaud.
Hermon had a few glorious chances to obtain some insurance, but Rodriguez (12 saves) held her own, keeping her team in the match.
“She has great instincts,” said Michaud, whose club has only two seniors. “Luckily for us we have her two more years.”
Presque Isle freshman Charlotte Carrier did an outstanding job marking Saulter, limiting her time and space with the ball.
Hermon finished with a 22-8 edge in shots, and the Hawks’ Chamberlain came up with five stops.
Follow Ryan McLaughlin on Twitter at rmclaughlin23