RICHMOND — For the first time in nine years, the Richmond girls’ soccer team won’t play in the Class D state final.

Instead, North Yarmouth Academy is headed to its first state championship game since 2007 after earning a 1-0 victory over top-seeded Richmond in the South final Wednesday afternoon.

NYA (13-3-1), the No. 2 seed, will face Central Aroostook on Saturday in Bath. It’s the Panthers’ first regional title since they completed a run of five straight Class C state championships in 2007.

Richmond, which won five of the last eight state Class D state championships, finished at 12-4-1.

Wednesday’s game figured to be close. The Bobcats tied NYA midway through the regular season, then lost to the Panthers 3-2 in the season finale.

“I knew it was going to be a 1-0 game, one way or another, their way or ours,” NYA Coach Rick Doyon said.

Serena Mower scored with 25:17 remaining when she took advantage of a defensive mistake. A Richmond defender tried to clear the ball near the top of the penalty area, but her kick went straight up into the air, then spun backward toward Mower.

“All of a sudden, I saw the ball coming at me and I said, ‘I gotta put it in.'” Mower said. “I just tapped it right in.”

Mower gained possession to the left of Liz Johnson, Richmond’s freshman goalkeeper, and booted it into the right corner. Mower is one of seven players who transferred to NYA after Maine Girls’ Academy closed this summer.

“Four or them are starters and the rest fill in,” Doyon said.

Both teams had chances in the first half. Richmond’s Bryannah Shea narrowly lost a race to the ball with NYA keeper Carly Downey (eight saves). Then, in the closing seconds, Mower appeared to have a breakaway, only to be caught by Richmond defender MaryBeth Sloat.

“I expected the conditions to be a little bit muddy because it had just rained,” Mower said. “It was a bit of a mess out there. I know I myself, and everyone else was just falling all over the place.”

The Panthers were a bit bigger, stronger and more physical, and took control of the first 15 minutes of the second half. But after NYA scored, Richmond carried most of the play.

“I thought we played well enough to win,” Richmond Coach Troy Kendrick said. “It’s a game of chances and they had a couple of good ones, but I thought we won the territorial battle. We had them pinned in their half a lot.”

The Bobcats held an 8-5 advantage in shots on goal, but two of the best scoring opportunities of the second half weren’t on net.

With 8:50 left, senior Caitlin Kendrick blasted a shot from 25 yards out that hit squarely off the crossbar. Just seconds later, junior midfielder Abigail Johnson hit a ball from the left of Downey that skittered just inches wide of the right post.

“I thought these kids got better over the course of the season,” Coach Kendrick said. “We got as much out of them as we could.

“That’s a pretty good (NYA) team right there.”

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