WATERVILLE – A year after losing to Waynflete on penalty kicks in the Western Maine Class C soccer playoffs, Hall-Dale Coach Andy Haskell and his Bulldogs found themselves in the same situation Thursday.
This time they were prepared, outscoring the Flyers by a goal in the penalty kick session to take a 1-0 victory and their first Western Maine regional championship.
Top-seeded Hall-Dale (16-0-1) advances to play Eastern Maine champion Houlton for the state title Saturday at Scarborough High School. Third-seeded Waynflete finishes at 12-3-1.
The Bulldogs connected on all five of their penalty kicks while the Flyers missed the first one and never caught up. Senior Colin Lush clinched the win when he beat Waynflete goalie Zander Majercik to the upper right corner of the net.
“I pretty much always kick it to the same side,” Lush said.
Zack McNaughton, Spencer Shagoury, Zac Plummer and Nat Crocker also connected on their penalty kicks for Hall-Dale while Peabo Knoth, Mohammed Suja, Henry Cleaves and Max Belleau scored for the Flyers. The Bulldogs lost 1-0 last year in the semifinals against the Flyers who went on to win the state championship.
“Something we did on Day I, was we started working on PKs,” Haskell said. “That just paid off. The kids had the confidence this year to take the PKs. I think last year they were a little bit nervous.”
Waynflete dominated large stretches of the game, recording 21 shots on goal to five for Hall-Dale. Haskell brought his leading scorer, McNaughton, back in the formation to play defense.
“We sacrificed offense for defense,” Haskell said. It was just like last year. We wanted to keep them on the perimeter and limit their chances. We knew we were only going to get four or five chances on goal.”
The Bulldogs recorded four shots in the first half and just one in the second and through two 15-minute overtime periods. Crocker had a goal called back late in the first half when he was ruled offside.
“We had a lot of chances and we just didn’t finish,” Waynflete Coach Brandon Salway said. “We played well and I still think we’ve got a great team, we just didn’t finish it off this year. It’s unfortunate but it’s really hard to repeat. Hats off to the teams that do it.”
Hall-Dale goalkeeper Sam Shepherd finished with 17 saves, including two beauties in the first overtime. On the first he recovered from an initial shot to save a header into an open net. On the second he robbed Knoth on a bullet from six yards away.
“I try to get in front of the person and take away as much angle as I can,” Shepherd said. “But he was in the little yellow circle so I got down on my knees and hoped it was there and it was.”
The battle at midfield featured two of the top players in Class C in Waynflete’s Paul Runyambo and Hall-Dale’s Lush. Runyambo was more involved in Waynflete’s offense while Lush picked his spot judiciously and thought defense first.
“We figured out between this year and last year we shut them out for 210 minutes,” Haskell said. “If you shut a powerhouse like that down for three and a half hours it’s a pretty good effort.”