PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Two Clara Kohlbacher goals in the first half and a stout performance by the Presque Isle defense has the Wildcats in the Class B state championship game for the second year in a row.
Kohlbacher scored her first goal 11:29 in and put in a second less than nine minutes later as the top-ranked Presque Isle squad prevailed over No. 3 Winslow 2-0 at the Gehrig T. Johnson Athletic Complex on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (14-1-2) advance to play South champion Cape Elizabeth (17-0) in Saturday’s state final at 3 p.m. in Hampden.
“Our coach always says ‘score early, score often,’ so getting that early lead really helped us,” said Kohlbacher, a junior forward who now has three of the team’s six playoff goals.
The first goal came off an assist by Maggie Castonguay, while the second was assisted by Madison Michaud, the team’s senior striker, who had 36 goals on the season to put her in the top five all time on the state schoolgirl goal scoring list.
Michaud has been limited to just one goal in the three playoff games, but her coach said that speaks well of the team’s ability to have others step forward to contribute.
“We’ve been waiting all year for others to take advantage when Maddie is being double- or triple-teamed,” said coach Ralph Michaud. “And that’s what has been happening and it is nice.”
Presque Isle’s defense made several big plays when the Black Raiders put together offensive attacks close to the goal. In the process, the Wildcats picked up their seventh consecutive shutout and eighth on the season.
Savannah Rodriguez, who had missed several games with a torn ACL but returned earlier this month, has been in goal for all eight shutouts and she had three saves on six shots.
“Our defense is awesome and really pulled it out today. It’s so confusing and I would not want to play back there as it’s totally different from playing up front,” Clara Kohlbacher said with a laugh, “but they did such a great job marking and talking to each other.”
Coach Ralph Michaud also praised the performance of the back line.
“In the last five minutes, when [Winslow] crosses the ball and it goes into Liz Collins’s legs or they cross it and it goes into Emma Kohlbacher’s legs … that’s perfect defense and it often gets overlooked,” Michaud said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Other Presque Isle players contributing to the defensive effort were fullbacks Molly Kingsbury, Lydia Miller and Jenna Sargent.
The Wildcats captured their fourth regional title under Michaud, who is in his 21st season as the coach. Winslow, which finished with a 16-2 record, received eight saves on 12 shots from goalkeeper Jennifer Ferry.