LEWISTON – They dominated the first half, but led by just a goal. Then North Yarmouth Academy began the second half with near-misses, including two shots off crossbars.

“We couldn’t have a letdown because it was only 1-0,” NYA junior midfielder Naomi Reischmann said.

The Panthers kept up the pressure, scored again with 10 minutes left, and beat Richmond High 2-0 in the Class D South girls’ soccer final Wednesday night at Don Roux Field.

It was a rematch of last year’s South final, which NYA also won, on its way to the state championship. The top-seeded Panthers (14-2-1) will try to defend their title 12:30 p.m. Saturday against North No. 1 Penobscot Valley (16-1), a 2-1 winner over Central Aroostook.

No. 2 Richmond is done at 13-4, three of those losses to NYA. The Panthers shut out the Bobcats every game.

“They were pretty clever back there (on defense),” Richmond Coach Troy Kendrick said, “Very athletic. Very quick. We had a tough time matching up.”

NYA outshot the Bobcats 8-0 in the first half, 20-5 for the game.

“I knew we were controlling it, but it was a one-goal game,” NYA Coach Ricky Doyon said. They score “one goal and that changes the momentum …”

NYA sealed it on Reischmann’s goal at 29:29.

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on one of their seven corner kicks in the first half. Serena Mower sent the ball in. In pinball fashion, it bounced off feet and eventually rolled out, in the direction of freshman midfielder Michala Wallace. Her eyes widening at her good fortune, Wallace rushed in and sent the ball to the upper right corner.

“In the right place at the right time, and I waited for the perfect moment to strike it,” Wallace said of her second goal this year.

The Panthers kept attacking. Outside midfielders Reischmann and Jasmine Huntsman were in control, sending through balls and crosses. Mower and Natalie Farrell were close on a couple of chances.

The Bobcats countered little in the first half. If midfielders Wallace and Angel Huntsman were not redirecting balls, then NYA’s defensive corps – Eliza Chase, Madison Argitis, Marion Robbins and Maureen Grant – was stifling.

“We just clicked from the very beginning of the season,” said Argitis, a senior captain. “We read each other well, and our new center back (Chase) has been a strong addition.”

Chase snuffed out several Richmond threats before they began.

Outshot 8-0 in the first half, Richmond was still behind only 1-0. The Bobcats made some adjustments and got balls to the goal (NYA goalie Carly Downey made three saves), but nothing seriously.

“We created some opportunities,” Kendrick said. “It’s not like we were knocking the door down. But we were right there.

“I thought if we could tie it up, stranger things could happen …. Try to get one. But they were too strong.”

And the Panthers were even more dangerous offensively in the second half with 12 shots. Reischmann hit a crossbar in the opening minute. Other shots found the post or just missed.

NYA got its breathing room when Mower sent in a ball that Reischmann chased down. Richmond goalie Liz Johnson (nine saves) had to come out, but Reischmann beat her to the ball, and scored.

“It was a great ball from Serena,” Reischmann said. “I hit the cross bar (earlier).  I definitely wanted that one.”

So did Doyon. “I could finally breathe,” he said.

NYA, which won seven Class C titles from 1999 to 2007, won its first D championship last year, a 4-1 win over Central Aroostook.

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