LEWISTON — The Maranacook girls soccer team brought the pressure, and generated the chances. But the Black Bears still needed the goal.

Ella Schmidt, normally busiest on the defensive end, took care of that.

Schmidt scored the game’s only goal on a corner midway through the second half, and third-seeded Maranacook defeated No. 4 Traip 1-0 in the Class C South girls championship game at Lewiston High School’s Don Roux Field on Tuesday afternoon.

Maranacook (15-1-1) earned its second trip to the Class C final in four years, the only two state championship appearances in program history. Traip, the last state champion in Class C, finished 12-6-0.

“They’ve been incredible all year long,” Maranacook coach Travis Magnusson said. “I said to them before, no one deserves it as much as they. They work very hard, they’re great people on and off the field, so they definitely deserve this.”

Magnusson said the opponent mattered. Maranacook beat Traip in penalty kicks in the regional final in 2018, but the Rangers answered with a 3-0 victory in the game in 2019.

“It was good that it was against Traip, because we think Traip’s unbelievable,” he said. “Traip’s been in the back of our mind for the last three years … so it makes it feel that much better.”

The Black Bears have been a high-scoring team all season, and they spent the first half looking for the tone-setting first goal. Nothing went in, however. Traip keeper Olivia O’Leary made nine first-half saves, and Traip fullback Noelle Denholm marked Black Bear super scorer Emily Harper and prevented the dynamic forward from getting many good looks at the net.

Maranacook’s Emily Harper, left, knocks the ball away Traip Academy’s Noelle Denholm during the Class C South girls soccer regional final Tuesday in Lewiston. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“She’s an elite athlete, she’s a fierce competitor and she’s a very talented soccer player,” Traip coach Michael Jackson said of Denholm. “I felt that that helped us on both sides of the ball. … The solution for 11 was our No. 18.”

That didn’t mean Harper didn’t have chances. In the 17th minute, she fired a shot from the top of the box trying to find the area inside the left post, but a diving O’Leary made the save.

“There are two ways you can take it,” Harper said. “At times it feels frustrating, but at the same time, we take it as we’re being really offensive right now, we’re getting chances, one of these is going to go in.”

The breakthrough came at the start of the 53rd minute. Maranacook was awarded its second corner, and Anna Erb — the Black Bears’ keeper in the first half — sent a kick into the right side of the box. A scramble ensued, and while O’Leary stopped the first shot, the rebound came to Schmidt and her follow-up went into the net with 27:53 to play.

Schmidt’s assignment for the game had been to mark Traip’s Molly Sawtelle. She was all too happy to make her offensive contribution as well.

“It just feels amazing,” Schmidt said. “I was marking their best player so it’s kind of surprising that I scored the goal, but Anna sent the ball in, it was just a great ball. … I was just crashing in. I think it went off Emily and bounced towards me, and I was just there and tapped it in.

Maranacook coach Travis Magnusson, left, speaks to his team in the final moments of a game against Traip Academy in the Class C South girls soccer regional final Tuesday in Lewiston. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“We practice corner kicks a lot in practice. We practice crashing the net, so I think that that helped a lot.”

Magnusson deferred praise for the preparation.

“I’ll give my wife (Karen Magnusson) credit. She’s the corner kick coach,” he said. “She worked a lot on it yesterday, and we remember the last time we lost to these guys, they scored all their goals on corner kicks. When both teams are good defensively, sometimes that’s the goal you need, so we spent a lot of time this last week on it.”

It was on Maranacook’s defense to hold, and the Black Bears did. New keeper Kayleigh Kubicki made four saves, and though Traip earned corners in the 70th and 72nd minutes, Maranacook’s core of stopper Grace Dwyer, sweeper Sophie Tweedie and fullbacks Winter Webb, Alissa Michaud and Schmidt didn’t let anything through.

“I thought it was very even,” Jackson said. “I feel the game could have gone either way. … I like the way we chose to play today, with the arrangement that we used, because I think it gave us strengths and it neutralized their strengths. And eventually, a loose ball and it’s in the back of the net.”

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