MARS HILL, Maine — All season long, the Central Aroostook girls soccer team has had little trouble pouring on the goals.
So when Panthers coach Joe Levesque saw his team quickly down 1-0 in Saturday’s Class D North semifinal against Katahdin of Stacyville, he didn’t panic. No. 1 Central Aroostook (15-0-1) overcame that early deficit to notch an impressive 5-1 victory over No. 5 Katahdin.
“We stay pretty even keeled,” coach Levesque said. “It’s a testament to the type of kids they are. Whether they are up or down, I never really see them get too emotional.”
With 66 goals scored during the regular season, the Panthers have a high-scoring offense which has only gotten better in the postseason. CA trounced No. 9 Bangor Christian 10-1 in the quarterfinals.
Central Aroostook advances to Wednesday’s regional championship against No. 2 Ashland (13-2-1). The Hornets and Panthers tied 1-1 when the teams met Oct. 9. Earlier in the season, Central Aroostook came away with a 5-1 win in Ashland.
In Saturday’s semifinal, Katahdin’s Erin Lake delivered the game’s first goal nine minutes into the game off a pass from Emma McNally.
Central Aroostook then received goals from Liberty Fulton and Katie Levesque to carry a 2-1 lead into the halftime break.
Levesque finished with three goals and two assists on the day, while Kayla Martin also added a goal. Breanne Bradbury, Fulton, and Janelle Tweedie each had an assist.
“I think we played a good overall game,” coach Levesque said. “That’s the thing about this team. You can have a group of great athletes, but when they have the game smarts to go with their athleticism it changes everything.”
CA goalie Olivia Blackstone made four saves on eight shots, while Katahdin’s Autumn McGraw had 13 saves on 18 shots.
Katahdin has one of the younger squads in the division, including four eighth-graders, but the scrappy Cougars continued to get better as the season progressed.
“We knew coming in that this was going to be a really tough game,” Katahdin coach Shawn McAvoy said. “We just didn’t have a bench to turn to today. Hopefully, next year we will have some more kids coming up.”
Due to injuries, Katahdin had only two players available off the bench, which made things tricky for the veteran Cougars coach as he tried to keep players fresh by rotating early and often on the field.
“The key to this game was the midfield,” McAvoy said. “I had good confidence in my defense, but we weren’t able to keep up with their midfielders to stay in the game. But I am very proud of our girls. This is the best team we have had as long as I have been coaching.”