SCARBOROUGH — This time, Lisbon was ready.
The Greyhounds spent the summer playing in a league on artificial turf. They tailored their game around speed, quick passing and quick crosses, all with thoughts of reaching Tuesday's Western Class C regional final and competing with Western C nemesis North Yarmouth Academy.
They did themselves one better.
Molly Nicholson converted a feed from Hanna Jordan with 18:59 to play in the second half and the Lisbon defense held the Panthers to two shots on goal all game as the Greyhounds reached their first-ever state final with a 1-0 victory over NYA at Scarborough High School.
"I can't even tell you what this means," Lisbon coach Julie Wescott said. "Last year we played NYA to penalty corners and they went on to win states, and we knew we could compete with the best in Class C. We played all summer together, they played on turf together, they were dedicated. We worked all season to chip away and put ourselves in the best position we could be and used that as motivation to get here, and get where we're going to go on Saturday."
"We were so unprepared last year playing on the turf," center back Bailey Madore said. "And in penalty corners we had no idea what we were going to do. This year, we worked on the penalty corners in case it came to that, and the turf wasn't really a factor because we practiced on it all summer."
Nicholson's goal came amid extended offensive pressure, on a long cross from Jordan that traveled at least 30 yards before being tipping by an NYA defender.
"It came at me a lot quicker, but practicing it all season helped a lot," Nicholson said.
Nicholson gathered the loose ball, picked a corner and fired.
"She was right there, I just had to pick a corner," Nicholson said. "I was just thinking, 'Don't miss.'"
And on defense, Madore anchored the effort up the middle, helping keep the Panthers to the outside all game long.
"Our middle didn't get going at all today," NYA coach Tracy Quimby said. "We tried the wings, but we would only get so far. We got it into the circle a couple of times, but it wasn't enough. We're still trying to figure out exactly what happened, to be honest."
"They have really good stick work so we needed to keep our sticks down and hopefully draw an obstruction call or something," Madore said. "We kept it away from them, kept switching fields."
For most of the first half, the strategy worked perfectly. The Panthers did not register a shot on the cage in the opening stanza.
"I can't tell you why, I wish I could," Quimby said. "We just didn't quite have the things clicking. We didn't have quite the same passing."
On the other end, Lisbon didn't have an overwhelming number of chances, but the Greyhounds' pressure was steady.
"They have a very fast team, they had great passing, and we knew coming in they were going to be a great team, and they showed up today," Quimby said.
Wescott did little to make adjustments at the half, only to reinforce her team's basics.
"It was a matter of getting more touches on the ball, getting in front and winning our one-on-ones and getting more quality shots on the cage," Wescott said.
Early in the half, Nicholson wasn't following Wescott's instructions, and the coach pulled her from the game.
"She's so talented, she has the fire, and I was telling her, on this surface, you have to have your stick down," Wescott said. "She just looked at me and said, 'All right.' When I see that look in her eye, she's ready to go back into the game."
After the Lisbon goal, NYA had a hard time getting fired back up.
"I think it completely shut them down. I think it got in their heads," Madore said.
Late in the game, Lisbon keeper Stevie Charest turned aside a pair of NYA chances to preserve the victory.
The Greyhounds (16-0-1) will now face Eastern Class C champion and MVC rival Winthrop in the Class C state final in Orono on Saturday.
"We know Winthrop; they know us," Wescott said. "It's going to be a great game. It's going to be who wants it more."