SACO — Thornton Academy and Marshwood entered their Class A South boys’ soccer preliminary-round game Saturday with similar records and resumes, so it wasn’t unexpected that one goal would determine which team advanced to the regional quarterfinals.

Brogan Searle-Belanger scored the game’s only goal with 14:34 remaining, and eighth-seeded Thornton earned a 1-0 win over No. 9 Marshwood.

Searle-Belanger’s goal, off a pass from Chase Pierce, sends the Golden Trojans (9-5-1) to the quarterfinals Wednesday against No. 1 South Portland (13-0-1).

“I just got the through ball through and played it back to Brogan, who has been there all year, and he put it away,” Pierce said. “Feels good, we’re going to move on and see what we can do next week … it’s going to be tough, but we’ve got nothing to lose.”

Marshwood finished 8-7. The Hawks had several scoring chances, especially in the second half, but couldn’t break through against Thornton keeper Travis Snyder and the Trojans’ defense.

“We just missed some looks that we had, looks that we’ve been able to finish this season,” Marshwood Coach Ben Deschene said. “That’s soccer. You get opportunities, and the winner is just who puts them away.”

Snyder finished with 11 saves, while Chase Gagnon had 10 saves for Marshwood.

“We were struggling all day to kind of find our rhythm,” Thornton Coach Andrew Carlson said. “Marshwood is a good team; we’re pretty evenly matched. In a game like that, it’s not surprising that it ended one-nil.”

The Hawks threatened throughout the second half, producing seven shots and seven corner kicks.

With less than four minutes remaining, a corner kick by Marshwood’s Jason Janetos curved toward the Golden Trojans’ goal, but Snyder dove to punch it away. With Snyder on the ground, the ball landed in the box at the feet of Marshwood’s Connor McCoomb, who fired a shot. Snyder, though, popped up in time to make the save.

“He has been one of the best corner kickers I’ve ever had, and he put a good delivery in there,” Deschene said. “The keeper just made a really good save. He was athletic enough, when we took our second shot, to get up off the ground to get it.”

“Just always get up after the first hit,” Snyder said. “It was pretty intense. We played with a lot of heart and didn’t give up.”

Moments later, Marshwood tested Snyder again when Nevan Collins booted a shot on target from nearly 30 yards. Snyder batted down the ball, which landed in front of Marshwood’s Henry Honkonen. But Honkonen slipped before he could capitalize on the opportunity, and Snyder collected the loose ball.

While those were the last of Marshwood’s chances, they certainly weren’t the only ones. Janetos had a breakaway three minutes into the second half, but Snyder charged out and made a diving save before Janetos could strike.

With 23 minutes left, following a string of passes in the Golden Trojans’ box, Marshwood’s Mike LaSelva got open and took a shot that slammed into the crossbar.

“They were coming at us hard, but Travis and our defense really stepped up today,” Pierce said.

“We didn’t play our best soccer, but we came out and we fought hard.”

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or:

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