High school girls soccer

Repeat after me: Windjammers weather Red Storm for second straight state crown

Kassie Krul nets two goals, Kelly one to help guide unbeaten Camden Hills to back-to-back titles
By Mark Haskell | Nov 05, 2017
Photo by: Mark Haskell Camden Hills players hold the state Class A soccer gold ball above their heads after the Windjammers beat Scarborough 3-2 in the season's final high school game on Nov. 4 at Deering High School in Portland. The Windjammers, who finished unbeaten, are state titlists for the second straight season.

Portland — The Camden Hills girls soccer team, with a three-goal lead — or an advantage by any measure, for that matter — typically is as sure a thing as is possible.

However, Scarborough, which opposed the Windjammers in the high school state Class A championship on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Deering High School, proved no typical opponent.

The Windjammers — as it turned out — would need every one of those three early goals as the Red Storm surged back late and did all they could to apply as much watery turbulence as possible against the Windjammers.

In the end, however, Camden Hills showed the heart of a champion for the second straight year as it fended off a furious final seven minutes by Scarborough and held on for an exciting 3-2 victory — and its second straight Class A crown.

Click for photos from this game.

Watch video below.

The win also wrapped an unbeaten campaign for Camden Hills, which, in addition to its Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A championship victory, finished the year with an unblemished 18-0-1 record.

The Red Storm, who also entered Saturday’s state final unbeaten, saw their season conclude at 16-1-1.

On a cool, crisp, sun-filled fall day — in front of hundreds of fans — on the artificial turf at Deering, Kassie Krul netted a goal in each half to lead the state champion Windjammers, while Kristina Kelly added another in the victory. Eliza Roy chipped in with an assist.

Gaby Panagakos and Josie Couture added second-half scores for the Red Storm.

Camden Hills held a 12-10 edge in shots and 5-1 advantage in corner kicks.

Isabelle Lang and Emily Royce played in net for the Windjammers and Red Storm, respectively.

The now two-time defending state champion Windjammers, led by head coach Meredith Messer and assistant coach Josh Mahar, include seniors Claire Pierce, Lauren Miller, Camryn Langille, Taylor Johnson, Meghan Gallagher and Sarah Contento; juniors Grace Wrona, Sarah Spizzuoco, Eliza Roy, Isabelle Lang, Ryan Hart, Eve Gutheinz, Grace Blackwell and Kassie Krul; sophomores Ella Pierce, Frances Ostensen, Kaylyn Krul and Kristina Kelly; and freshmen Alexandra Southworth and Lexi Heidorn. The Kruls are sisters.

The Red Storm, led by head coach Mike Farley, include seniors Emily Royce, Haley Koukos, Lauren Sabatino, Lauren O'Reilly, Sierra Duggan, Ellie Patten, Caitlin McCaffrey, Natalie Taylor, Sophie Glidden and Gaby Panagakos; juniors Ryan Connolly, Grace Afofs, Sophia Martens, Lizzy Flanders, Josei Couture, Suzanne Wooldridge, Madysen Wallace, Taylor Veilleux, Leah Dickman, Molly Murname and Anna Black; and sophomores Ashley Sabatino, Emily Labbe, Madison Marinko, Sarah Callahan, Josie Patten and Emily Johnson.

“They worked super hard, they stayed focused and I’m glad that they were able to make it happen,” said coach Messer. “They thrive on competition and this is the best. This is by far our best game all season in terms of competition.”

“It’s incredible,” said Kassie Krul. “I have no words. We wanted this so bad for a second year, so I’m just so happy with our team and all the work we’ve put in.”

“Last year [in the state final] I sprained my ankle [late in the first half] so my goal for this year was to actually play the whole game,” said Claire Pierce. “So I achieved my personal goal, and then our team just really pulled it out today and had an amazing game. I’m so proud of them.”

The Windjammers dictated play through the opening stages of the contest before finally breaking free on a goal from Kassie Krul.

Kelly moved the ball through the midfield and passed it up the right side to Roy, who cut back and made a precision pass to Kassie Krul in front of the goal.

Kassie Krul played the ball off her body, settled and beat Royce with a left-footed shot with 26:13 remaining in the first half.

Her score proved to be the lone of the first half as Camden Hills held a 1-0 advantage after 40 minutes.

Kassie Krul said, “I’d been losing my touch shooting-wise” as she battled back from hyperextending her knee earlier in the season, which caused her to miss a few games.

She found her touch again Saturday, and on the most significant of stages.

“I just felt it this game,” Kassie Krul said. “I just really tried focusing on giving it my all and focusing on that net.”

The Windjammers continued to put pressure on the Red Storm early in the second half when Kelly got a shot off with a Scarborough player draped all over her and netted the team’s second goal a mere 5:45 into the second half as Camden Hills appeared to be pulling away.

And the home team continued to do so with 29 minutes to go in regulation on an absolute rocket by Kassie Krul off a direct kick.

Krul bent the ball just under the crossbar — and over the outstretched hands of Royce — to give Camden Hills a 3-0 lead.

“I’m honestly not used to scoring off that a lot,” said Kassie Krul of her free-kick goal. “Usually we’d have my sister [Kaylyn] take it. But I just try to remember what the coaches had been telling us is, especially from a far shot, is not to just go straight onto it but to make it angled from the side and curve it in. And it was perfectly set up for my left foot. I tried not to focus on the wall, I tried not to focus on the goalie [and] I just tried to finish it in the back of the net.”

But the Red Storm would not go quietly as they did not quit later in the half when Dickman made a run up the right sideline and made a sharp turn toward the goal, but Lang came out to meet her and swiped the ball away before Dickman could put a shot on net.

The ball popped out on the play and Panagakos was there to clean it up as she popped in Scarborough’s first goal with 18:59 remaining.

Then the Storm pulled within a goal with 7:02 to play when Couture gathered a ball in the box that was booted in off a free kick to make the score 3-2.

“For the first [Scarborough goal] I think I stepped up a little too high and got out of position,” said Claire Pierce, a senior defender. “And then they were able to beat us a little bit and get that goal. The second one was an unlucky bounce. But I felt good with a 3-0 lead because I knew we had some insurance goals.”

The final seven minutes were hectic for the Windjammers, who brought Kelly, who, as a sophomore, has a school career scoring record of 71 goals, back to help out defensively during that span.

“I wanted her to put a little extra pressure on Panagakos because that’s their go-to person and if someone was going to want to score, it was going to be her,” said Messer of her decision to move Kelly back. “So I just wanted to give Spizz[uoco] a little help on that side. Kris has great instincts and she also has a great foot.”

“They got two goals in a very short amount of time and that was shocking to us,” Kassie Krul said. “And I think coach just decided to move Kris back because we didn’t really need her out there [up front]. We just needed to win the ball and stall some time.”

“We slowed it down a lot over the last seven minutes,” said Claire Pierce. “Taking time on our throws, taking time on our kicks [and] just controlling the game and trying not to let anything stupid happen.”

The Red Storm did make things tense a few times over the final few minutes of the contest, but could not connect with any quality opportunities.

And in the end, the final horn blared as Camden Hills collected its second straight state crown.

And Messer, while elated, also expressed relief.

"Our performance in the first half I think we were really, really strong, and they pushed us and made us work hard at the end,” said Messer. “We don’t get tired, but we were definitely a little tired at the end.”

“It was a complete team effort,” said Claire Pierce. “Everyone played their hardest and played their hearts out. To say we’re undefeated state champions my senior year is absolutely unbelievable.”

Camden Hills and Scarborough were ranked first and rolled to regional titles to advance to the states.

In the North, the No. 1 Windjammers defeated No. 8 Mount Blue of Farmington 11-0 in the quarterfinals, No. 5 Edward Little of Auburn 6-0 in the semifinals and No. 3 Bangor 3-1 in the regional championship.

In the South, the No. 1 Red Storm defeated No. 8 Windham 2-1, No. 5 Cheverus of Portland 1-0 in the semifinals and No. 3 Kennebunk 6-0 in the regional championship.

This season, the Windjammers outscored opponents 118-16, with nine shutouts, in 20 games, including 23-3 in the postseason. That does not include a 3-2 win over Brunswick in the league championship.

Camden Hills is 36-1-1 overall the past two state championship seasons.

The Windjammers have not lost a game since Sept. 20, 2016.

Overall this season, Kelly led the Windjammers with a whopping 39 goals and 17 assists, while Roy (20 goals, 14 assists), Pierce (15 goals, 5 assists), Heidorn (11 goals, 3 assists), Kassie Krul (10 goals, 7 assists) and Kaylyn Krul (7 goals, 12 assists) also had had topnotch offensive seasons.

Camden Hills won its first state championship last year and added another one Saturday, while Scarborough has collected state Class A crowns in 2010 and 2012 and state Class B titles in 1998 and 1999.

Camden Hills versus Scarborough girls
Camden Hills versus Scarborough on Nov. 4 in high school girls soccer in Portland. (Video by: Zack Miller of VStv)
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