For Hermon High School girls soccer coach M.J. Ball, senior striker Sydney Gallop and junior midfielder Michaela Saulter, the 4-0 loss to Cape Elizabeth in the 2019 state Class B soccer final still resonates with them.
“It seems like yesterday,” Gallop said.
That loss has also served as motivation and the 17-0 Hawks will have another crack at the 16-1 defending two-time state champion Capers on Saturday in the state Class B final at Massabesic High School in Waterboro at 3 p.m.
Hermon is 0-4 in state games.
In the other girls final at Massabesic, Windham (18-0) will try to win its first state Class A crown since it claimed back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014 when it faces a 15-2 Brunswick team that last won it in 2009. That was also the last time Brunswick reached the state game. Game time is 10 a.m.
The C and D girls state games will be in Presque Isle on Saturday with two teams playing in their first state championship games.
The C game will see 17-0 Bucksport play in its first one against a 15-1-1 Maranacook team from Readfield that lost to Fort Kent 1-0 in the 2018 final. Game time is 10 a.m.
The 3 p.m. game will mark the state Class D title debut of 16-1-2 Wisdom High of St. Agatha against defending two-time champ North Yarmouth Academy, 16-0-1.
In looking back on the 2019 state game, Ball said “what really hurt us in that game was we gave up two goals in seven minutes to start the game. When you are playing a very organized and skilled team like Cape Elizabeth, it makes it very difficult to win.”
“So I talked to the girls about making sure we get off to a positive start and that we attack and try to dictate the game with our tempo. We don’t want to sit back and absorb pressure,” he said.
Saulter, who was one of seven freshmen and sophomores who started that game, said the team was nervous and not prepared.
“That was a huge setback and we want revenge,” she said, adding that the team is stronger, more confident, and knows what to expect on Saturday.
“We’re going to come out strong with all we have and play the best we can,” Gallop said. “We aren’t thinking about what happened in the past.”
Saulter and midfield partners Allie Cameron, Liz Wyman, Emily Treat and Brooke Gallop will be the key to the game, Ball said.
“I firmly believe that the midfield wins games,” Ball said. “Our midfield stacks up pretty well. They are really going to have to step up defensively. It is going to be so important for them to cover gaps behind them and double [team] when they can.”
Senior midfielders Emily Supple and Maggie Cochran are the catalysts for Cape Elizabeth according to Ball, and the Hawks are going to have to limit their impact on the game.
Challenging preseason games against Class A powers Camden Hills and Bangor were designed to help the Hawks prepare for this game because they weren’t tested much during the regular season or the playoffs. Hermon scored a record 104 goals this season.
The dynamic striker tandem of Gallop (34 goals, 22 assists) and Lyndsee Reed (35 & 9) have been unstoppable so far. Gallop is the school’s all-time scoring leader with 112 goals.
But the midfield has also been chipping in as Cameron has 7 & 11, Saulter has 4 & 12, Treat has 4 & 6, Brook Gallop has a pair of goals and 11 assists and Wyman has 2 & 3.
Center back Madison Higgins has added six goals and four assists.
In the Class C game, the Bucks are led by 60-goal scorer Ella Hosford but she was held off the score sheet in the 1-0 win over Fort Kent in the C North final.
Natasha Monreal scored the goal and the stars of the game were freshman goalkeeper Jetta Shook (8 saves) and sophomore sweeper Nettie Fox, who blocked a number of shots and made several crucial clearances.
Influential midfielder Alyssa Maguire played only a few minutes due to illness and could give the Bucks a boost if she is at full strength.
In Class D, Wisdom and NYA cruised through the playoffs with Wisdom outscoring its four opponents 28-1 and NYA outscoring its three 19-1.
Junior Abbie Lerman has scored over 100 career goals for Wisdom and is one of a three-player attack that has combined for 23 goals and 15 assists in the playoffs. Olivia Ouellette has nine goals and seven assists while Lerman and Lilly Roy have 7 & 4 apiece.
In Class A, Brunswick is going to need to duplicate its stout defensive effort that produced a 2-1 overtime victory over previously undefeated Bangor in the A North final against a Windham team that outscored its playoff opponents 25-3.
Brunswick allowed only two goals in its three playoff wins and is led by freshman Alexis Morin’s 21 goals.