High school girls soccer

Late Kelly goal lifts Camden Hills to fourth straight Class A North crown

Unbeaten Windjammers top Bangor, play for fourth consecutive state title Nov. 9
By Zack Miller and Ken Waltz | Nov 06, 2019
Photo by: Zack Miller Camden Hills players celebrate their fourth consecutive Class A North high school girls soccer title on Nov. 5 in Bath. The Windjammers beat Bangor 1-0.

Bath — Kristina Kelly has a nose for the goal. In fact, perhaps since she was able to first take her first steps, the now Camden Hills senior has had a knack for putting a soccer ball into the net, using her feet, legs, head and even her torso at times.

Well, her innate and incredible ability to find a way to score came in handy again for the Windjammers on Tuesday night, Nov. 5 as Kelly's goal in the 76th minute lifted the No. 1 Camden Hills girls to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over No. 6 Bangor in the Class A North high school championship game on the rain-soaked artificial turf at McMann Field.

Watch video and see more photos below (also watch Kelly's goal at 4:41-mark).

With the victory in wet, difficult conditions, Camden Hills captured its fourth straight regional crown and will play for its fourth consecutive state Class A championship on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m. on the turf field at Hampden Academy.

And the opponent will be a familiar one — Scarborough. The Windjammers will face the Red Storm for the third straight year in the state final.

In its three previous state Class A championship games, Camden Hills beat Scarborough 1-0 in 2018 and 3-2 in 2017 and Gorham 1-0 in overtime in 2016.

The Windjammers, also the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A champions this fall, are 17-0 and will face No. 3 Scarborough (15-2).

The Red Storm defeated No. 1 Cheverus of Portland (16-1) 2-1 in the Class A South final on Tuesday night.

In their regional title clash, the Windjammers finished with 11 shots on goal, while Camden Hills and Bangor had three corner kicks.

Alex Southworth made three saves in net for the Windjammers. Emma McNeil played in goal for the Rams.

"I would have liked to score sooner," said Kelly. "[The game] was a little more intense than we all were anticipating, but I think we rose to the challenge well. We had some big spacial issues in the first half, but with some motivation from coach during halftime we pulled it all together."

"I thought Bangor played a great game," said Windjammer coach Meredith Messer. "I thought they had a good strategy. They had a lot of people behind the ball and we had to figure out how to deal with that space that we weren't getting into. I thought the second half we did much better. We were more crisp with our passes. I thought we earned it. They didn't give it to us.

"I thought we did a nice job stepping up to the challenge. [Kelly] is a fantastic player, and [Bangor] always had two people on her, and she did a really nice job on that finish."

Earlier in the South playoffs, Cheverus beat No. 9 Kennebunk 3-0 and No. 4 Gorham 1-0, while Scarborough bested No. 6 Falmouth 1-0 and No. 7 Noble of Berwick 3-1.

In the North playoffs, Camden Hills also beat No. 4 Oxford Hills of South Paris 11-1 and No. 8 Lewiston 12-0.

Bangor finished its season 9-6-2.

This season, Camden Hills beat Bangor twice (3-1 and 4-2). The Windjammers also bested Oxford Hills and Lewiston earlier in the regular season.

With Tuesday regional title victory, Camden Hills also improved its impressive unbeaten streak, in its fourth season, at 68 games. The Windjammers are 67-0-1 since their last loss — against Bangor — on Sept. 20, 2016.

Deep, talented, championship-inspired Camden Hills has outscored opponents 24-1 in three playoff games.

Additionally, including the postseason, Camden Hills has outscored opponents 120-11, with nine shutouts, this fall.

The Windjammers, led by head coach Messer and assistant coach Josh Mahar, include Kelly, Southworth, Kaylyn Krul, Mary Kate Pons, Alison Saucier, Lexi Heidorn, Ella Powers, Tessa Whitley, Anya Babb-Brott, Frances Ostensen, Ella Pierce, Caroline Contento, Kasey Wood, Emie Wood, Lauren Schenk, Ivy Merriam, Ali Tassoni, Darian Langille, Auren Teel, Allison Gill and Kara Andrews.

Tuesday's contest against Bangor did not involve a halftime lead for the Windjammers for the first time this season, nor did it include more than one goal for the first time in the 2019 campaign, but the Windjammers did have their chances.

With 12 minutes to play in the first half, Krul placed a kick perfectly in the middle of the box, as Kelly flew in and tried to head the ball, but McNeil was a half-second quicker, as the Rams' goalie punched the ball away to negate the chance.

Kelly had another chance with under a minute to play before halftime. The senior went through the Ram defense and had a short breakaway opportunity, but McNeil came out of the net and slide-tackled the ball from Kelly.

Without their usual lead at halftime, new emotions were brought up in the Windjammers, as the team attempted to get back to their dominate ways.

"I think the team went back and forth between disappointed and really excited," said Kelly. "We knew we could do it, we had done it before, but we just had to figure out how to connect the passes. It was really hard with the water [on the field]. I had a hard time with my touches."

"I think the first piece of it was we had to really step up and talk," said Messer. "So many times in so many games we've been able to do what we want because we've had a lot of time, so in the second half we had to concentrate on giving each other that support, and telling each other there is a man on, so we could play quicker.

"I think [the team's] mood at halftime was how do we fix what feels off, so we can get things going. That was really nice to see, because they haven't been in that position where they've had to step up and mentally break down a team. [The team] did a really nice job of that. Their focus was definitely there. You could feel a difference in the second half. The intensity of our play bumped up."

"[Coach Messer] put me in the middle a couple of times [for the second half], which worked," said Kelly. "It threw [Bangor] off their game a little bit more.

"[Coach Messer] does a good job. Rather than saying you are doing a bad job, she tries to point out specific things and point out the good, but also say what you need to work on, but saying everyone needs to do it, so it's not singling someone out. It gives everyone the motivation to work harder."

The second half remained deadlocked, as each team had opportunities to score, but could not capitalize, but with four minutes to play, Camden Hills rose to the top.

Kelly used her chest to gain control of the ball between two Bangor defenders at midfield. Then, using her superb skills and unbelievable speed, broke through the defense with only one Ram defender to beat. Kelly sped past and had a clean look at the net, as she froze McNeil, and found the bottom left corner for the goal.

"It was really exciting," said Kelly. "I know I've been in that same situation in states my freshman year and I missed, so I feel like I've redeemed myself, finally.

"Most of my touches had been too long because the turf was wet. Everything felt right [for the goal]. My touches were on, it was exactly where I needed it to be. I zone out [in those situations] and focus on the goal, which can be my downfall, because all I can see is the goalie. For a second I thought I was going to hit the post again, but it went in."

"I was really hoping the second defender wasn't going to catch up to her hip and push her wide," said Messer. "When I took [Kelly] out, she asked me 'what should I do and where should I go, because there are so many people,' so I said to her that you need to make your decision whether you are going to serve [the ball] or shoot. If you're going to shoot stay central, which she did.

"[Kelly] touched [the ball] just enough to make the defense shift just enough so she could get by. She did a really nice job with that."

Kelly, a senior committed to play Division I college soccer at Central Connecticut State University, has keyed the Windjammer offense in the playoffs with 13 goals. In her four years at Camden Hills, she has amassed a school-record 158 goals, 64 assists and 37 hat tricks.

Camden Hills moves on to yet another state championship game, against an opponent they have bested the previous two years in Scarborough.

"I think every team is different," said Messer. "This team is certainly different from last year's team. I think we need to be really focused defensively, because [Scarborough] does like that long driving ball service.

"I've gone down a couple of times to see them play, and I think it will be a tough match, but if our midfield does its job, we should be OK."

"We really need to make sure their best player, which coach thinks is their right wing, [is locked down]," Kelly said. "We need to make sure Mary Kate [Pons] is ready for that, which I think she is. She's come a long way this season. We also need to make sure all of our shots are on frame with power, because they have a really good keeper again this year, which we struggled with last year."

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.

Camden Hills versus Bangor girls soccer
Camden Hills versus Bangor on Nov. 6 in high school girls soccer in Bath. (Video by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills team members with their Class A North championship plaque. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills team members with their Class A North championship plaque. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Pierce. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Pierce. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Pierce, right, and Bangor's Maddie Ahola. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Lexi Heidorn, middle. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Lexi Heidorn. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Lexi Heidorn, left, and Bangor's Isabel Parkin, right. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Lexi Heidorn, left, and Bangor's Isabel Parkin, middle, and Maddie Ahola. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Pierce. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Tessa Whitley (4), Kristina Kelly (9) and Kaylyn Krul (10), as well as Bangor's Emma McNeil, left, and Rowan Andrews, right. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Kristina Kelly, left, Tessa Whitley, middle, and Kaylyn Krul, right, as well as Bangor's Emma McNeil. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Kristina Kelly, middle, and Kaylyn Krul, right, as well as Bangor's Maddie Ahola, left, Rowan Andrews, middle, and Emma McNeil. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hill's Ali Tassoni, middle, and Bangor's Mackenzie Lambert, left, and Maddie Ahola. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ali Tassoni, middle, and Bangor's Maddie Ahola, left, and Emma McNeil. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ali Tassoni, right, and Bangor's Maddie Ahola, middle, and Emma McNeil. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Kristina Kelly. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Pierce, right, and Bangor's Eliza Jansujwicz. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Pierce, front, and Bangor's Eliza Jansujwicz, left, and Maggie Cowperthwaite. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Pierce, left, and Bangor's Anna Connors. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Emie Wood. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Powers. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Powers. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Pierce. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
From left, Camden Hills' Mary Kate Pons, Emie Wood, Lexi Heidorn, Ella Pierce and Anya Babb-Brott. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
From left, Camden Hills' Lexi Heidorn, Ella Pierce, Ella Powers and Anya Babb-Brott. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Kaylyn Krul, left, and Kristina Kelly. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Lexi Heidorn, right, and Bangor's Anna Connors, left, Sasha Jansujwicz, middle, and Maggie Cowperthwaite. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Caroline Contento. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Ella Powers. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Emie Wood. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Kristina Kelly. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Kristina Kelly. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Carolina Contento, left, and Lexi Heidorn, right, as well as Bangor's Anna Connors. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Lexi Heidorn. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills players indicate four straight regional titles. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills team members indicate four straight regional titles. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills team members indicate four straight regional titles. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills team members indicate four straight regional titles. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
From left, Camden Hills coach Meredith Messer, Kristina Kelly, Kaylyn Krul and Ella Pierce. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Kristina Kelly, left, Kaylyn Krul, middle, and Ella Pierce. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills' Kristina Kelly, left, Kaylyn Krul, middle, Ella Pierce, left, and assistant coach Josh Mahar, back. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills players celebrate with their plaque. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
Camden Hills players celebrate with their plaque. (Photo by: Zack Miller)
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