PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Showcasing an explosive front line and a stout defense, the No. 3 Fort Kent girls soccer team pulled off an exciting 1-0 victory over No. 2 Houlton in a Class C semifinal Saturday morning.
Played on the artificial turf of the Gehrig Johnson Athletic Complex, the Warriors (9-5-2), received a first-half goal from Morgan Cyr and played tight defense in the second half.
For the Shires, hopes of making it back to the regional championship for the third consecutive year fell just short. Houlton, the defending Class C state champs, ends its season with a 12-2-2 record. Both of their losses were to Fort Kent.
The Warriors advance to the regional championship for the first time since 2014, when Fort Kent claimed a 1-0 victory over Houlton. Fort Kent hosts the regional championship, scheduled for Wednesday, against either No. 9 Penquis of Milo or No. 4 Central of Corinth.
“What an epic game,” first-year Fort Kent coach Doug Cyr said. “It’s been a battle all season with Houlton. They have a very strong team.”
Cyr said he felt the Warriors were prepared both physically and mentally for the game. The Warriors also had the luxury of being well-rested as Fort Kent played its quarterfinal matchup (a 1-0 double overtime victory over No. 6 George Stevens Academy) a day early on Tuesday to beat the incoming snowy weather.
The Shires also had a marathon double-overtime game against No. 7 Orono (a game the Shires won 4-3) on a cold, blustery Thursday night in Presque Isle.
“We were fresh, but it was still a challenge to keep these girls focused,” Cyr said. “We’re a very young group and it takes a team effort [to win]. That is what we have been saying all year long.”
Veteran Houlton coach Tim Tweedie said Thursday’s long game was somewhat of a factor Saturday, but did not want to use that as an excuse.
“Last game, we were all hustle and no composure at times,” he said. “Today I wanted us to play smarter. I thought we actually played better today, and lost, than how we played Thursday [in the quarterfinals].”
Fort Kent freshman Morgan Cyr, the coach’s daughter, produced the game’s only goal with 29:37 to play in the first half of a nifty pass from Kate Lamarre. She vividly recalled the goal that lead her team to victory.
“Usually I don’t really remember goals, because it’s all a blur,” she said. “I got a nice pass from Kate and luckily it went in. I was like ‘Oh Gosh, I hope I don’t miss.’”
Cyr’s sent a low-lining shot to the far post that Houlton goalie Tessa Solomon could not get a grip on. Solomon made 13 saves on 14 shots for the Shires, while Lindsay Ouellette stopped all four shots she faced for the Warriors.
Houlton lost one of its veteran leaders near the end of the first half as senior Jamie Brown fell awkwardly on her wrist. She was able to return midway through the second half, but was sporting a splint and a heavily wrapped right hand.
“They think she either dislocated or may have broken her wrist,” coach Tweedie said. “But she’s such a tough kid and knew she didn’t have anything left to play for, so she really gutted it out and left it all on the field today.”
Houlton had numerous scoring chances, especially late in the game, but was unable to boot one into the net to tie the game. Fort Kent did a nice job defensively taking away the middle of the field, which is where many of Houlton’s goals have come from on the year.