PORTLAND—Cape Elizabeth’s defending Class B state champion girls’ soccer team went as far as it could this fall.
But Saturday afternoon at Deering High School, the undermanned Capers’ quest for a repeat title fell one goal shy, due to several near misses and a perfect shot from Waterville in overtime.
Cape Elizabeth, which resembled a MASH unit Saturday due to a series of unfortunate events during its stirring playoff run, hit the post twice in a frustrating first half.
Then, in the second, the Purple Panthers began to carry play as the defending champs began to experience fatigue, but they couldn’t convert.
The game would go to overtime and after Capers junior goalkeeper Tessa Goldstein made a great save at one end and Cape Elizabeth sophomore Mariah Deschino was denied by Waterville junior goalkeeper Gabrielle Martin at the other, the Purple Panthers won it when senior captain Lydia Roy floated a shot over Goldstein and into the net from 30-yards out to give the Purple Panthers a 1-0 victory.
Waterville capped a perfect 18-0 campaign, avenged a loss from last year’s state final and ended the Capers’ season at 12-5-1.
“I couldn’t ask anything more from the girls,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Craig Fannan. “They gave everything. They played 110 minutes Wednesday (in the regional final) and 94 minutes today. They’ve been fantastic. It’s just a shame we ran out of legs a little bit.”
A year ago, Cape Elizabeth was the dominant team in Western Class B and went on to win its first state title since 1999, edging Waterville in the Final, 2-1 (4-2 on PKs).
This fall started like more of the same, with a 5-0 home win over Freeport in the opener, but the Capers then fell at York (3-1) and Yarmouth (2-1). After handling visiting Lake Region (10-0) and impressing at Poland (8-0) and Falmouth (3-0), Cape Elizabeth was humbled at home by Greely (3-0). After sandwiching home wins over Yarmouth (1-0) and Falmouth (2-1) around a 1-1 home tie versus Kennebunk, the Capers lost again to Greely, this time in double overtime in Cumberland, 2-1, but they closed strong, downing host Fryeburg Academy (2-0), visiting York (1-0) and host Kennebunk (3-0) to go 9-4-1, good for the No. 3 seed in the region.
After dominating No. 6 Morse in the quarterfinals, 6-1, Cape Elizabeth got a late goal to edge No. 3 Yarmouth in the semifinals, then survived top-ranked Greely (2-1, 4-2 on PKs) in Wednesday’s regional final.
The Capers had gone 6-1 in their previous state game appearances (see sidebar, below), with the the last three also coming against Waterville (all Cape Elizabeth victories).
Waterville was as dominant as any team in the state during the regular year, winning its 14 games by a composite 79-0 margin. As the top seed in Eastern B, the Purple Panthers eliminated eighth-ranked Caribou in the quarterfinals (surrendering their first goal of the year in a 7-1 victory), fifth-seeded Camden Hills (4-1) and No. 3 Hermon (1-0) to advance.
Waterville set the standard in Class A for many of the early years of girls’ soccer in Maine, winning Class A championships every season between 1980 and 1984. After losing to Mt. Ararat in the 1985 state game, the Purple Panthers didn’t return until they fell to Cape Elizabeth in 1997. Losses to Deering in 1998 and Cape Elizabeth again in 1999 followed. Waterville got back in 2007, but again fell short, 1-0, to Gorham. Then, in 2008, the Purple Panthers finally regained the Gold Ball with a 5-1 victory over Gorham. Last year, Waterville fell just short of its first Class B championship.
Saturday, the Purple Panthers went out and got it.
Cape Elizabeth, which was playing without last year’s state game hero, junior Kate Breed (concussion), junior Katherine Briggs (knee injury), senior Melissa Rudberg (concussion) and junior Morgan Wight (who had to sit after receiving a red card in the regional final), had a 10-3 edge in shots in the first half and on two occasions almost got the game’s first goal, but it wasn’t to be.
The first chance of the game went to Waterville, in the eighth minute, but senior captain Sarah Shoulta’s header off senior captain Pilar Elias’ feed went wide.
With 28:35 to play in the first half, Capers senior Emma Landes sent a shot wide.
Cape Elizabeth then earned a corner kick, but senior Kirsten Rudberg had a shot blocked.
With 25:55 remaining in the half, a long feed bounced and ricocheted off the post right to sophomore Mariah Deschino, but her header went to the side and Martin fell on the ball.
Deja vu struck with 11:53 to go, as senior standout Kathryn Clark had a great look and her floater appeared to be on target, but it hit the crossbar and a rebound opportunity wasn’t converted.
“We had two bounces off the post and followed up both times,” Fannan lamented. “If one of those went in, the game would have been different. It just didn’t work out.”
Seconds later, junior Sarah O’Connor sent a pass toward the far post, but a stretching Clark couldn’t get her foot on it.
Late in the half, Shoulta shot wide, Deschino shot wide on one bid and high on another and after taking a pass from junior Montana Braxton, who was her usual phenomenal athletic self, Deschino had a shot saved by Martin.
Early in the second half, Cape Elizabeth again pushed to get the lead, but after taking a pass from Deschino, Clark chipped a shot just off the mark, Martin made a save on a 30-yard free kick from Braxton and both Deschino and Clark had shots blocked.
The Purple Panthers then began to take over and as the game wore on, the Capers’ exhaustion began to show.
After Goldstein made a save on a blast from Waterville junior Fotini Shanos, Braxton headed out a free kick, Goldstein saved a header by sophomore Jordan Jabar on a Shoulta free kick and Roy sent a blast just wide.
With 18:23 to go, Braxton’s individual brilliance set up a chance for Clark on the right flank, but she didn’t have much of an angle and her shot went wide.
“Montana has great skills,” said Roy. “It took a lot of effort to keep (Clark) from scoring. We played a lot of defense on her.”
After a Jabar header on a corner kick resulted in a loose ball in the box that was eventually cleared, a Shoulta through ball to Elias was grabbed by Goldstein.
Down the stretch, Shanos had a couple bids go for naught and Shoulta sent a shot just wide.
For the second year in a row, a Cape Elizabeth-Waterville Class B state final would go to overtime.
With the prospects of penalty kicks very much in everyone’s minds (had two 15-minute “sudden victory” OT sessions not produced a winner), the Purple Panthers made sure they wouldn’t suffer the same fate as a year ago.
Waterville almost won it a minute into overtime, but Elias’ promising bid was inches wide of the far post.
After each team had a corner kick which didn’t result in anything, Braxton fed Deschino, but Purple Panthers senior captain Morgann Totorella broke it up at the last second.
With 4:11 to play in the first OT, Roy launched what appeared to be the winner, but a diving Goldstein kept the game alive.
At the other end, Deschino had a good look, forcing Martin to make a dive, but she too came up with the ball and the teams played on.
But not for much longer.
With the prospect of a second OT looming, the ball came to Roy on the left sideline, nearly 30 yards out. She launched a shot that off her foot appeared to be heading over the crossbar, but it sank at the last second. The ball barely went under the crossbar and stayed just inside the far post and there was nothing Goldstein could do to keep it out.
“Coach (Ian) Wilson told me if anything comes out to me to take a shot and I did,” Roy said. “At first, I thought it was over (the crossbar) and I was thinking, ‘Oh no. We have to go to a second overtime.’ Then, Sarah came running to me and said, ‘It went in!’ I looked over and the ball was in the net and I started crying. Going into overtime, I knew we had to get a goal. I kind of threw aside my defensive responsibilities and went for it.
“We kept saying it was about redemption, revenge, we had to go get it. That made us want it even more. We noticed Cape was tired at about the 20 minute mark. We don’t have a ton of girls who play Premier and we take a lot of pride in that. We work really hard.”
For Cape Elizabeth, the season had come to a sudden end.
“I thought we defended well today and I thought it would take a strike like that to beat us,” Fannan said. “Unfortunately, that was the case today. It’s tough to see (Goldstein was looking into the sun in OT), but I don’t think any keeper would have saved that shot. It was one in a million.
“We’ve done tremendously well to get here. I’m proud of the girls for putting on a show for being as many numbers down as we were. It’s not just the impact of those girls missing the game. It’s what we have to do around it. We had to drop (junior) Tori (Diaz), who’s normally a center-midfielder, to left-back. We had to drop Montana, who’s a dominant central-midfielder, to center-back. Hats off to the girls who came in because I don’t think was a huge dropoff in quality. It shows the depth and type of character of a team we are. We dug in and kept fighting.”
Waterville finished with an 18-15 edge in shots (8-4 on frame). Goldstein made eight saves, while Martin stopped four shots. The Capers had four corner kicks, while the Purple Panthers attempted three.
Cape Elizabeth took awhile to hit its stride, but wound up coming oh-so-close to capturing another Gold Ball.
“It took us awhile to get over the loss of Phoebe (Shields), Elise (Flathers), Lizzy (Raftice), Addie (Wood) and (goalkeeper) Mary (Perkins), the girls who were huge for us last year. It took awhile to figure out who would step up and be the leaders. Once we figured out the roles and responsibilities, our season turned. The back end was magic. The only black mark was a loss at Greely in overtime.”
This spring, the Capers will graduate six seniors, most notably Clark, one of the great players in program history.
“Kathryn has been fantastic,” Fannan said. “A four-year starter. She had to change her game a little bit this year to adapt to the different needs of the team. She’s so selfless in what she does. She works off the ball, defends. She’s not the most conventional captain in terms of shouting and screaming, but what a role model for the young girls who want to to do well.”
Next year’s team will have a healthy Breed and Briggs, Goldstein will return in goal, Deschino could be unstoppable up top and then there’s Braxton, who could be the best player in the conference in 2015.
Don’t be surprised if Cape Elizabeth is right back in the state game and avenges this setback.
“Mariah will be a junior and we’ll probably have eight or nine seniors starting,” Fannan said. “We’ve got four freshmen coming in next year who will impact the team. We’ll be in good shape again. As difficult as this is, I’m sure it will be motivating.”
Cape Elizabeth junior Montana Braxton is defended by Waterville junior Cody Veilleux.
Cape Elizabeth junior Morgan Carpenter brings the ball up under pressure from Waterville senior captain Brooke Ettinger.
Cape Elizabeth senior captain Kathryn Clark looks to shoot as Waterville freshman Mackenzie St. Pierre defends.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Mariah Deschino and Waterville junior Cody Veilleux sky for a header.
Cape Elizabeth junior goalkeeper Tessa Goldstein prepares to pounce on the ball as Waterville senior captain Sarah Shoulta pressures.
Cape Elizabeth senior Kirsten Rudberg boots the ball away while under pressure.
Cape Elizabeth senior Emma Landes gets her head on the ball.
Cape Elizabeth junior Maureen Lavallee heads the ball away from Waterville senior Lydia Roy.
Cape Elizabeth junior Sarah O’Connor kicks the ball away from Waterville freshman Mackenzie St. Pierre.
Cape Elizabeth senior Lindsay Stewart dribbles into traffic.
Cape Elizabeth 2 Waterville 1 (4-2 PKs)
Cape Elizabeth 2 Waterville 1 (2 OT)
Cape Elizabeth 2 Waterville 1
Cape Elizabeth 1 Brunswick 0 (4 OT)
Mt. Ararat 4 Cape Elizabeth 1
Cape Elizabeth 2 Mt. Ararat 1
Cape Elizabeth 3 Caribou 0
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Mariah Deschino watches hopefully as her shot sails on target during overtime of Saturday’s Class B girls’ soccer state final versus Waterville. Unfortunately for Deschino, the shot was saved and moments later, the Purple Panthers ended the Capers’ reign with a 1-0 victory.
Mike Strout photos.
Cape Elizabeth captains (from left) junior Montana Braxton, senior Brette Lennon and senior Kathryn Clark accept the runner-up trophy following the setback.
More photos below.