LEWISTON — It was sweet redemption for the Traip Academy girls’ soccer team Tuesday night.

A year after losing to Maranacook in the regional championship game on penalty kicks, second-ranked Traip took control early and rode to a 3-0 victory over the fourth-ranked Black Bears in the Class C South title game at Don Roux Field. It is the Rangers’ first regional championship since 2002.

“These girls have earned it,” said Traip Coach Kristin O’Neill. “They’re ready for it. They’re excited. This team has a balance of talent and heart and they’re ready for it.”

The Rangers (15-2) will play Fort Kent, a 3-2 double overtime winner over Houlton in the Class C North game, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the Class C state championship game at Falmouth High School.

Traip controlled much of the game territorially, and held a 8-1 edge in corner kicks, scoring all its goals off the kicks.

The Rangers took control quickly, getting a goal from Sophia Santamaria 3:20 into the game and the Rangers’ defense, led by Santamaria, kept the Black Bears (12-3-3) from getting too close the rest of the game.

“What we tried to do was (put) immediate pressure on the ball,” said Santamaria, a senior center back. “And just composing the ball, trying not to go in for a foul, just go in calm and composed.”

Her quick goal, said Santamaria, got the Rangers into the game. “It was really big,” she said. “It set the tone for the rest of the game and it pumped everyone up and brought the intensity up.”

Maranacook settled in and actually controlled the final 20 minutes of the first half.  But Traip goalkeeper Abigail Pitcairn made a sliding stop on Emily Harper with 3:00 remaining to maintain the Rangers’ lead.

Then Noelle Denholm scored off a corner kick with 27:06 remaining and Molly Sawtelle off another corner with 11:39 remaining and Traip was on its way to the state title game a year after losing to the Black Bears in the regional final.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s amazing,” said Santamaria. “Since last year when we lost to them in PKs, that was a bitter ending. Now to come out like this, 3-0, it’s pretty amazing.”

That Traip scored all its goals off corner kicks was amazing as well. The Rangers were 1 for 17 in scoring off corner kicks in their 3-0 semifinal win over St. Dominic.

“That was so important to us,” said O’Neill. “It’s so good to finish on a few of them tonight.”

And Maranacook Coach Travis Magnusson knew those corners were the difference.

“They did a good job off of them,” he said. “I thought our defense was great. We have to do a better job of not giving corner kicks. But we feel it was an even game. Three corner kicks and that’s all they got off us.”

Denholm, a freshman, wasn’t on the Rangers’ team that lost last year. But she said this season has been everything she dreamed of.

“I was so excited when I made varsity,” she said. “This has been exactly what I imagined. It’s perfect.”


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