AUBURN — It was a game with plenty at stake, especially for the St. Dom's girls' soccer team.
Thursday's meeting between the Saints and Lisbon featured two of the top teams in Western C, but it had significant ramifications from the Saints' perspective.
"We had a lot on our minds," said senior forward Kayla McLellan. "It was Senior Night, the MVC game and trying to get first place."
It was McLellan's goal in the first half that delivered all those rewards to the Saints in a 1-0 victory.
"We knew we had a lot riding on today," said St. Dom's coach Kathy Little. "We wanted to keep our chances alive for the MVC championships game next Wednesday. We wanted to solidify home-field advantage. There was quite a bit riding on it, and being Senior Night, we wanted to do it for our seniors."
It was the first loss of the year for Lisbon, which finished at 12-1-1. The Greyhounds are currently ranked first and have already confirmed their spot in next week's MVC game in Wiscasset. St. Dom's (12-1-1) was ranked third and plays at Mountain Valley Saturday. A win would set up a rematch in the conference showdown Wednesday.
McLellan's game winner came with 9:54 left in the first half. After even play early on, a trip just outside the penalty area gave the Saints a free kick. McLellan put a shot toward the net that found its way in.
"I was hoping for a deflection or the top of the net," said McLellan. "It hit the wall and bounced off and went in."
Lisbon keeper Courtney Martel tried to change direction to make the save but couldn't reach it.
"Courtney had it lined up and was going to make the save," said Lisbon coach Jake Gentle, whose team had won 12 straight. "It deflected and it threw off the angles. That happens sometimes."
In the second half, the Saints played well with the lead. St. Dom's possessed the ball effectively and made it hard for Lisbon generate consistent offense.
"When we didn't get flustered, we looked to play possession," said Little. "If we tightened up the game and made small passes and passed it around, it would make them chase us more."
The Saints had chances to add to the lead. Marley Byrne hit the crossbar before leaving the game with an injury. Kelley McLellan had a low shot that was saved.
Lisbon had a pair of prime opportunities. Kayla Angelico beat a defender and got an open look in front. She fired a shot toward the right corner, but Saints keeper Kelly Pomerleau made the stop with 26:58 left.
"Shot hit and it just broke back to the keeper and didn't stay wide for her," said Gentle. "Sometimes you make those and sometimes you miss them."
With 10 minutes left, Angelico had a nice cross from the right side. Renea Samay-Houle was charging at the far post, but Pomerleau lept out to make the stop.
"I thought their keeper made one of the best saves I've seen all year," said Gentle. "She almost looked parallel to the ground when she went out for that one."
The Saints finished the game strong, moving the ball effectively and keeping it away from the Greyhounds. Samay-Houle had a shot in the final minutes, but otherwise, Lisbon couldn't produce many quality chances.
"We were trying to just possess the whole game," said McLellan. "We knew they'd come out strong and win the 50-50 balls."