Reaching the Class C South final has almost become old hat for the Maranacook girls soccer team. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting for the Black Bears.
“We talked about it after the (semi-finals), it’s now been five years since we made the regional finals,” Maranacook head coach Travis Magnusson said. “I think it speaks to our program. But we don’t want to take that for granted either and we want to make sure they know how special it is to be back in this place.
The Black Bears, defending Class C champions, are one of several central Maine football and field hockey teams vying for regional crowns on Wednesday. No. 1 Maranacook (15-0-1) will face No. 5 Waynflete (12-4-0) at 6:30 p.m. at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham.
The Black Bears have an abundance of talented goalscorers this season and reached the C South final after a tight game 2-1 win over Old Orchard Beach in the semi-finals on Saturday. Addie Watson scored the decisive goal for Maranacook.
“We are really dynamic, we have a lot of different people who can score goals,” Magnusson said. “We have scored 92 goals as a team this year. We have a lot of different weapons, three over-20s (goals), two over-25s. We have a number of people who can score. But we’re just as good defensively. We’ve only conceded seven goals on the year, against good teams as well. We have a very good balance, we’re good at all levels. We’re just a solid team all around.
The Black Bears did not face the Flyers in the regular season.
On the boys’ side, defending B champion North Winslow (15-0-1) is back in the regional final and will face No. 1 John Bapst (15-0-1) at 4 p.m. at Cameron Stadium in Bangor.
“This season to go this far, I think, is probably the toughest season for a team I’ve had that’s come this far,” Winslow head coach Aaron Wolfe said. “I don’t think at the start of the season anyone on the outside thought we had any chance of getting this far, so I think that makes it even more rewarding and fun.”
No. 2 Winslow has outscored opponents 89-8 this season, with big help from senior forward Andrew Poulin, who has 50 goals. Poulin scored two goals for the Black Raiders in their 2-1 victory against number 3 Ellsworth in the semi-finals on Saturday.
“He just knows how to find his way to the goal,” Wolfe said. “He just knows what to do and when to do it. He chooses his spots very well.
In Class C South, #2 Mt. Abram (15-1-0) will face #1 Waynflete (14-1-1) in the regional final at Mt. Ararat. It’s a rematch of last year’s C South Final, when the Flyers beat the Roadrunners 3-2, before beating Fort Kent for the Class C title. Mt. Abram has won 14 straight games since losing on September 7 against Lisbon and allowed only two goals during that period.
Once again, the Skowhegan field hockey team returns to the Class A North Finals. The No. 1 River Hawks (16-0-0) are seeking their 21st straight regional title (there was no tournament in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic). The last time Skowhegan failed to reach the Class A final was in 2000, when Sanford beat Messalonskee 3-2 for the state crown.
The River Hawks will face No. 2 Oxford Hills (13-2-1) at 5 p.m. at Gardiner Area High School. Skowhegan went 17-1-0 last season, losing 4-1 to Cheverus in the Class A final. This season, the River Hawks have outscored their opponents 101-2, with 15 shutouts.
“The thing about this team is that we’re very lucky to have so many kids who can do so many things,” Skowhegan head coach Paula Doughty said after a 5-0 victory over Mount Ararat in the semi-finals. “It’s not like we had two players who could play, so we just started putting in different kids.”
In Class B North, n°1 Lawrence (16-0-0) mainly dominated the competition to return to the B North final. But the Bulldogs will be hoping for a reversal of fortune from last year’s game, which ended in a 1-0 loss to Old Town. The challenge won’t get any easier for Lawrence, who must beat perennial contender No.2 Belfast (14-1-1) to reach the Class B final. Gardiner Area.
Lawrence beat Belfast 2-1 in their only meeting on September 3.
“(Belfast) are a fast and clean team,” said Lawerence senior Ashtynn Stewart after the Bulldogs victory. Cony 6-1 in the semis Saturday. “They will keep us on our toes. We’re going to have to watch a movie and do whatever it takes to beat them.
In C North, No. 2 Maine Central Institute (12-3-1) returns to the Regional Finals and will face No. 1 Dirigo (13-3-0) at Gardiner Area High School. The Huskies battled through the playoffs for freshman head coach Terri-Jean Wilkinson, beating No. 7 Mount View 2-1 in overtime in the quarterfinals, before beating No. 3 Dexter 1- 0 in the semi-finals.
“Our girls were amazing in overtime, not that you want to get there,” Wilkinson said. “But when we get to that point, there’s no hesitation as to who is going to finish it and (have the) ability to finish it. But like I said, you don’t want it to come to that.
“They play as a team, a legitimate team,” Wilkinson added. “That confidence that every game just builds.”
If the Huskies beat the Cougars, it would be a return to the Class C Finals, where MCI lost 3-2 to Winthrop last season.
In C South, reigning Class C champion No. 1 Winthrop (14-2-0) travels to Waterhouse Field in Biddeford to face No. 2 Lisbon (13-3-0) at 5 p.m. Since a 4-3 loss to Spruce Mountain on Sept. 21, the Ramblers have outscored their opponents 45-1. Winthrop beat Lisbon twice in the regular season, 4-0 on September 2 and 4-1 on September 28.
Times Record reporter Eric Maxim contributed to this report.