Nov. 5—A state championship game between teams seeing each other for the first time always contains an air of mystery.
Three years ago, North Yarmouth Academy and Penobscot Valley of Howland met for the Class D girls' title, and the result was nearly 78 minutes of scoreless soccer before a dramatic goal tipped the balance toward NYA.
On an unusually warm Saturday afternoon in Portland, the teams met again. This time, with no drama.
Angel Huntsman scored four goals in a span of 23 minutes as the Panthers rolled to an 8-0 victory at Deering High's Memorial Field to secure their fourth consecutive Class D crown.
"We don't ever go into games thinking it's going to be easy," Huntsman said. "Every team we play, whether it's Yarmouth or Penobscot, we go in with intensity, and that's what we showed (Saturday)."
Yarmouth, of course, is NYA's crosstown rival and, thanks to an overtime victory Saturday, the Class B state champion. The Clippers also are among the teams who came up short against NYA in the Panthers' dominant 18-0 season, having lost 4-1 back in September.
Jeremy Durost, coach of Penobscot Valley (16-1-1), took note of that match as he prepared his girls for a squad he called as skilled as he's ever seen.
"We knew we were up against, for lack of a better word, a juggernaut team," Durost said. "We absolutely knew this was going to be the biggest test of the year. I'm just proud of the girls for continuing to fight all 80 minutes."
Huntsman, a 5-foot-2 senior, headed in two corner kicks from Ella Giguere in the game's first 20 minutes. She then converted feeds from Michala Wallace and Anna Belleau for a 4-0 advantage with just under eight minutes remaining in the first half.
"Honestly, the assist is just as important as the shot," Huntsman said. "As a point guard in basketball, I focus more on assists than actually getting a goal. All credit goes to my teammates."
NYA sophomore Emily Robbins made it 5-0 a few seconds before halftime on a drive from 25 yards.
Robbins and Wallace scored early in the second half, and Leah Dube converted a late rebound.
Not since the Class D girls' soccer state tournament began in 1989 has a championship game seen eight goals. Until Saturday, the highest-scoring Class D girls' state final was Richmond's 5-2 victory over Ashland in 2007.
In four tournament games this fall, NYA outscored its opponents 38-1.
"We moved so well without the ball," said NYA Coach Rick Doyon. "The give-and-go's, the overlaps, the one-touch passing. It's just constant moving, and that creates space."
NYA keeper Sarah Moore needed just two saves for the shutout. The Panthers held a 17-2 advantage in shots on frame and a 15-3 edge in corner kicks. Howlers keeper Lauryn Smart made nine saves.
"We had a lot of pressure on our shoulders, undefeated season and all that," Wallace said. "Our goal was just to come out fast."
She took a deep breath and soaked in her surroundings.
"Being a senior, it's a different mix of emotions," she said. "It's sad, but it's also just amazing to be part of this."