Richmond keeper Trystin Shea makes a save against Buckfield during the D South boys’ soccer championship game Thursday at McMann Field in Bath. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)
BATH — The Richmond boys’ soccer team is ready to party like it’s 2014.
That’s the last time the Bobcats won a Class D state title, a fact they can change this weekend after beating Buckfield 2-0 for the Class D South regional title on a cool, damp afternoon Thursday at McMann Field in Bath.
Strangely enough, the Bucks were the team Richmond beat for the regional championship that season. And the Bobcats will face Bangor Christian — the team Richmond beat in the state final in 2014 — once again for Class D bragging rights Saturday at 3 p.m. at Hampden Academy.
“It’s so surreal. It seems like it’s just repeating what happened in 2014,” Richmond forward Zach Small said. “The field being wet, playing the same teams, same time. It’s so surreal. It’s a great feeling though, I’ll tell you that.”
Small notched the first goal of Thursday’s contest midway through the first half for Richmond (16-1-0). From 25 yards away from the net, Small ripped a shot aimed high at the right post of the goal. The ball then curved toward the top lefthand side of the net, over the head of Buckfield goalkeeper Richard Kraske for the score.
“I took the ball, the coaches were saying shoot it, so I turned around, looked and I tried to fire a shot at the goal,” Small said. “I put a little curve on it and it just happened to just go in and drop right in the corner. Lucky as it is, it worked in our favor.”
The Bobcats controlled possession for much of the first half, holding the 1-0 lead over Buckfield (15-2-0) going into halftime with an 8-5 shot advantage. Thanks to the FieldTurf of McMann Field, the pace of play was quicker for both teams than they normally experience on the natural grass of their home fields. However, Richmond had some earlier experience with the field, playing at McMann last week.
“We knew the field was fast, with it being a little wet, we knew the ball was going to skip,” Small said. “They haven’t played here very much, so we knew it was going to be new for them. We used that to our advantage because we have quick feet, and we’re fast.”
The second half was more of a battle for ball control between both teams, though Buckfield made a late push to tie the game. The closest the Bucks came to a goal happened with a minute left, when a Buckfield forward tried to deflect a ball on a header into the net. The ball seemed destined to find the corner of the net, but Bobcats goalkeeper Trystin Shea made a diving save, preserving the lead.
“It was very scary,” Shea said. “If it was not for the defense, if we didn’t have them, there’s no way we would have had this (win).”
Shea finished the match with five saves.
Forty-five seconds later, the Bobcats sealed the game when forward Dakotah Gilpatric scored on a breakaway, his shot deflecting off Kraske’s hands into the net for the 2-0 final.
“I just got tunnel vision (toward the net),” Gilpatric said. “I just kicked it. The goalie got his hands on it, but it slipped through. … It felt pretty great. The experience is awesome. I have my teammates here, my teammates are the best thing I’ve ever had. I love everybody, I love my teammates.”
Richmond takes the season series against Buckfield, winning two of their three matches. The Bobcats also beat the Bucks 2-1 on Sept. 19. Buckfield handed Richmond its only loss of the season by a 3-2 score on Oct. 17.
The Bobcats have not faced Bangor Christian (15-2-0) — the No. 1 seed in Class D North — this season. But the Bobcats wouldn’t mind a final like in 2014, when they beat Bangor Christian 3-0.
“We know they split (two games) with Greenville, and Greenville we battled with,” Small said. “I think — when we go into a game with an unknown (opponent) — we usually play better. We didn’t know anything about Traip (Academy), and we beat Traip. When they don’t know anything about us and we don’t know anything about them, we’re strong in that situation.”
Richmond’s Dakotah Gilpatric celebrates a goal with 16 seconds left to put Bobcats up 2-0 over Buckfield in the D South boys’ soccer championship game Thursday at McMann Field in Bath. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)Rubber chips from field turf pop up as Buckfield’s Tobias Worthley, left, and Richmond’s Zach Small battle for a ball in the D South boys’ soccer championship game Thursday at McMann Field in Bath. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)After time expires, Richmond celebrates after winning in the D South championship game against Buckfield 2-0 on Thursday at McMann Field in Bath. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)