The Old Town High School Coyotes were the only team to test the defending two-time Class B North champion Hermon during the regular season, and that was the case again in Wednesday night’s Class B North final at Cameron Stadium in Bangor.
But a pair of freshmen came through for the Hawks as striker Madison Stewart’s first-half goal and midfielder Natalie Tardie’s second-half goal led the Hawks to a hard-fought 2-0 victory.
Hermon, now 17-0, will take on 14-3 Yarmouth in the state Class B final on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Hampden Academy.
Second seed Old Town wound up 12-4-1 with three two-goal losses to Hermon.
Hermon had beaten all of its other opponents by at least four goals.
The Hawks also received five saves, including three gems, from junior goalkeeper Bella Bowden.
“Old Town has been our best competition all year,” said Hermon coach M.J. Ball. “Bella came up huge for us. She doesn’t get tested a lot so it makes you a little bit nervous but she was tremendous.”
Danica Brown finished with 11 saves for Old Town.
Hermon attempted 21 shots to Old Town’s 14.
The Coyotes played extremely well in the first half and had a couple of great chances before Stewart scored with 12:51 left in the half.
Allyson Caron hit a long pass from her left back position and it deflected off a body toward the Hermon goal where Kayeigh Johnston beat the Hawk defenders to the ball and raced in alone on Bowden.
She took a couple of touches but Bowden perfectly timed her dash off her line and was able to smother the shot with her body.
“You have to read their touch on the ball,” Bowden said. “They usually like to take big, fast touches on breakaways but she kept it close to her so it was all or nothing at that point. I dove and hoped for the best.”
A few minutes later, Saige Evans sent a long ball up the right flank and Karina Dumond chased the ball down with a full sprint.
She rifled a shot from the right edge of the penalty area and it rattled off the short side post.
Stewart broke the deadlock with her 29th goal of the season.
Lyndsee Reed made a nice diagonal pass to her down the left side and Stewart hit a perfectly placed low shot along the turf that nestled inside the far corner.
Stewart is right-footed but hit it with her left foot and said she wasn’t aiming for a particular spot.
“I just hoped for the best when I shot it,” she said.
Hermon carried the play in the second half and Tardie scored her crucial goal with 14:01 left.
Allie Cameron passed it to her as she darted down the left wing.
Tardie rifled a powerful 14-yard left-footed shot that glanced into the short side corner off the hands of Brown.
It was her 14th of the campaign.
“I was originally going to shoot for the [far] post but the goalie was right there. There was nowhere else to go with it,” Tardie said.
“We talked at halftime about the need to get that second goal,” Ball said. “We wanted to make them chase the game and, for the most part, we did.”
Bowden prevented the Coyotes from pulling within one shortly afterward when she deflected an OIivia Lizzotte shot around the post during a scramble in the penalty area.
Earlier in the half, she had scrambled across the goalmouth to snare a shot off a corner kick just before it crossed the goal line.
Old Town coach Eric Damboise was proud of his team and its performance.
“We had plenty of chances, we just didn’t connect,” Damboise said. “We had a lot of energy. Their goalie made some great stops. I can’t say enough about our team. Hermon is a great team and I don’t think any other team could [compete] with Hermon like we did.”
“We worked our butts off,” said Old Town center midfielder Gabby Cote.
“It was a tough game,” said Reed, who has scored 40 goals this season but was marked well by the Old Town defense with speedy sophomore Caron anchoring the back line. “Old Town did a really good job. They really improved throughout the season as did we.”