AUGUSTA — The previously-unbeaten Brunswick girls soccer team, unequivocally, was the cream of the Class A North crop from start to finish.

And, for nearly the entire first half of the regional championship game on Tuesday night, Nov. 1 at Cony High School, No. 3 Camden Hills matched the Dragons stride for stride. Even out strode them for a spell.

Camden Hills’ Hannah Christie, left, and Brunswick’s Kynli Van Leer. Photo by Mark Haskell

However, a goal with less than a minute to play in the opening 40 minutes, which gave the Dragons the lead, took the wind out of the Windjammers’ sails as top-seeded Brunswick pulled away decisively in the second half and claimed the regional high school pitch crown with a 5-1 win.

The victory propelled the Dragons (15-1-2) to the state Class A title game, where they lost to No. 1 South Scarborough (18-0) 1-0 on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Deering High School in Portland.

Camden Hills, which defeated No. 6 Mount Ararat of Topsham 3-0 and No. 2 Bangor 3-1 to advance to the regional final, saw its season conclude at 12-4-1.

Camden Hills’ Lea Zwecker. Photo by Mark Haskell

Team members for Camden Hills, coached by Meredith Messer and assisted by Josh Mahar, include Maddy Tohanczyn, Brenna Mackey, Bella Ward, Amelia Johnson, Leah Snyder, Darian Langille, Hattie Moss, Kara Andrews, Britta Denny, Vilde Gangeskar, Izzy Debrosky, Sydney Stone, Grace Westbrock, Hannah Christie, Lea Zwecker, Rose Tohanczyn, Harper Coburn, Olivia McManus, Maya Stone, Sophie Helmstetter, Jordan Space and Elise Mahar.

Team members for Brunswick, coached by Martyn Davison and assisted by Stu Palmer and Allison Thomas, include Sophia Morin, Hannah Lay, Hannah Hamilton, Kelsie Carlyon, Mackenzie Beal, Helen Maher, Kynli Van Leer, Molly Newell, Alexis Morin, Molly Tefft, Madeline Chaput, Isabella Foster, Shannon Flanagan, Laura Butterfield, Ella Gustafson, Gabrielle Swain, Ellison Wilby, Emily Doring, Zelda Anesko, Elysia Palmer, Kyra Fortier, Celeste Braillard, Tanner Gagnon, Solveig Ledwick, Lauren Labbe, Emily Wallace, Isabel Dauphinais, Hazel Bachman and Eva Kousky.

In Tuesday’s regional final, Stone scored for Camden Hills — which staked the Windjammers to an early 1-0 lead — while Tefft and Alexis Morin had a pair of goals and Van Leer one to pace Brunswick.

Camden Hills’ Leah Snyder, middle, and Brunswick’s Shannon Flanagan. Photo by Mark Haskell

Brunswick edged Camden Hills 11-10 in shots, while Maddy Tohanczyn made six saves in goal for the Windjammers and Sophia Morin nine saves in net for the Dragons.

“I think we played well, but not as consistently as we would have liked,” said Stone, one of five Windjammer seniors. “I think the key for Brunswick was their ability to make key plays at the right times.”

The Windjammers came out and outplayed the Dragons through the first 20 minutes, as they beat the higher seed to 50/50 balls and controlled the pace of play.

From left, Brunswick’s Shannon Flanagan and Camden Hills’ Amelia Johnson, Darian Langille and Bella Ward. Photo by Mark Haskell

Then, with 28:01 to play in the half, Stone booted a direct kick that went over the outstretched hands of Sophia Morin and kissed the bottom of the crossbar for the game’s first score.

The Dragons, who outscored opponents 73-7, with 11 shutouts, this fall, struggled initially to get going offensively in front of the net, as their few early chances come on shots from distance out wide.

Then, with 14:54 to go in the half, Alexis Morin put one of those exact shots from distance on frame — which Maddy Tohanczyn sprawled out for and punched out of the goalmouth — but Tefft quickly controlled the ball back post and deposited the deflection to knot the score 1-1.

From left, Camden Hills’ Leah Snyder, Amelia Johnson, Bella Ward and Brenna Mackey. Photo by Mark Haskell

“In the first half when we scored first, I think you get that swell of adrenaline,” said Messer. “And then you kind of come back down and you settle and I think we got into that mode where we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win and got back on our heels a little bit and gave them some room.”

The Dragons, who also beat the Windjammers twice during the regular season (1-0 and 2-1), ultimately pulled ahead for good with 51.9 seconds to go in the half when Van Leer crossed a ball into the goalmouth, which Tefft played off her body and into the net.

Camden Hills’ Izzy Debrosky. Photo by Mark Haskell

Messer said her players, who outscored opponents 75-18, with eight shutouts, were not deterred by the late first-half score from the Dragons. The sentiment was: “We still have 40 minutes to play and I’ve seen us score three goals in 40 minutes,” but the veteran coach added, “They did a nice job covering us and taking away our lanes. They definitely earned a win.”

Brunswick, which beat No. 8 Messalonskee of Oakland 5-1 and No. 4 Mount Blue of Farmington 1-0 earlier in the playoffs, got a significant insurance goal with 27:51 to play off a shot by Alexis Morin from deep which took a high bounce and over Maddy Tohanczyn and into the net.

“I think she just got caught up a little too high,” said Messer of  Maddy Tohanczyn. “You never want to see your goalie backpedal. I think it was just one of those cases where when that long ball comes in, it’s just experience. And she has gotten so much better this past year and she did a great job tonight.”

Camden Hills’ Brenna Mackey, front, among others. Photo by Mark Haskell

The high-powered Dragon offense continued to pour it on late as Van Leer converted a goal from distance that grazed the bottom of the crossbar and in with 15:06 to go and added another when Tefft narrowly missed her third goal on a shot, but was touched in far post by Alexis Morin with 8:11 to play.

“They’re very strong,” said Messer. “They’re physically strong and they’re aggressive to the ball and we just couldn’t quite counter back. That being said we had some good opportunities where we got into some dangerous spaces, but couldn’t quite finish.”

Brunswick lost to Windham 3-1 in the 2021 state championship game. There was no state champion crowned in 2020 due to the pandemic, while the Windjammers won the previous four state titles — 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Camden Hills will lose only five seniors, three of whom were starters, to graduation.

“The seniors after the game just said, ‘It was a privilege to be here. It’s a blessing to be here. And we got to represent our school and we worked really hard,’ ” said Messer. “I think it’s easy to be sad that you lost instead of celebrate the fact that you worked really hard to get here. I’m really proud of them.”

“I’m extremely proud of this team and how far we’ve come from the start of the season,” said Stone. “I think this is a good learning experience for the younger players to see how much potential they have and how far they can go. I’ve loved every year on this program and am thankful for the opportunity to have played for Camden Hills.”