AUBURN — The only difference was the celebration.

After methodically cruising through the Mountain Valley Conference competition this season and dismantling two MVC foes in the tournament, the St. Dom’s boys’ soccer team continued to produce a businessman-like approach Wednesday against North Yarmouth Academy. The Saints produced the same consistent and steady performance it has most of the season. The only difference in the 2-0 victory over their arch rivals was the celebration and the reward.

“I’m definitely feeling the moment,” said senior defender Jameson Peterson. “It’s something we’ve been talking about and working toward all year. This is something I’ve been working for and all of my fellow seniors have been working for for four years.”

The Saints claimed their fifth Western C title and advance to Saturday’s state championship game. St. Dom’s will play Fort Kent, which beat Orono 5-1 Wednesday for its first Eastern Maine title since winning in Class A in 1981. The site and time for Saturday’s game has yet to be determined.

The Saints (17-0) got a goal from Jack Erickson and got another on an own goal as St. Dom’s posted its 12th shutout of the season. The Saints produced a strong defensive effort and thwarted all threats by the Panthers. NYA was held to just 10 shots.

“They had a lot of speed,” said junior defender Brian Mathieu. “So we just tried to help each other out, call to see who’s got who and covered for each other.”

NYA (8-7-1) produced an admirable effort after learning it would be without its starting goalie. He was suspended from the team after breaking team rules and becoming ill after Saturday’s win over Georges Valley. The Panthers used junior Jordan Haskell in net. He had played goalie in middle school and joined the Panthers midway through this season.

“I did a little work with him for two days,” said NYA coach Martyn Keen. “He was a little more confident than our freshman. He hadn’t done it before really, but he was great. In two days, we turned him from a hockey player to a soccer goalie.”

Haskell made 12 saves and helped keep NYA in the game early. He had played in goal earlier in the year for one game and one scrimmage but quickly settled into the game Wednesday after early saves.

“It was nerve-wracking by the time I found out I was playing,” said Haskell. “My team performed well in front of me.”

NYA had an early opportunity to take the lead when Forest Millburn had a bid that Saints’ keeper Nick Brigham made a leaping save on midway through the opening half. Instead, it was St. Dom’s that struck first on an own goal. Erickson and a defender were chasing down a loose ball. Haskell came out of the net, but the ball was accidentally headed by the Panther defender, and it went into the vacated net with 13:21 left in the half.

“Something I tell my strikers is to press the ball up top,” said St. Dom’s coach Matt Erickson. “If you put pressure on a player, you’re going to force a mistake.”

The Panthers stayed even with the Saints for the rest of the half. NYA even had a direct kick by Henry Sterling that was blocked by a wall of defenders. In the second half, the Saints picked up their game and were able to dictate play.

“We got the boys regrouped at halftime, and we reiterated our game plan,” said Erickson. “They came out and applied it. I reminded them that we were up a goal. Once we settled down, we were able to knock the ball around. We had a chance to open them up in the back.”

With 28:44 left, the Saints made it 2-0 and put the Panthers in a serious hole. Mathieu had the ball in the corner and passed it out front for Erickson to put into the left side of the goal.

“It was a bunch of one-time touches,” said Mathieu. “People were moving and passing, bing, bang, boom. That extra goal is nice. It gave us a little extra room to relax.”

The Saints took advantage of that cushion. St. Dom’s played a solid defensive game the rest of the way and didn’t give the Panthers much chance to rally. Though the Saints had not played a team with the technical skill that NYA possessed, St. Dom’s was able to settle into a defensive game and keep the Panthers at bay.

“It was an own goal and two kids slipped (on the second goal),” said Keen, who also serves as Brigham’s goalie coach. “I knew they’re a good team. We did ourselves proud considering the issues we’ve had. I’m very proud of them.”

Saint Dom’s goalie Nick Brigham, right, celebrates a 2-0 victory against NYA with Cam Brown, left, Jameson Peterson and Kyle Hargreaves in Auburn on Wednesday.

St. Dom’s Alex Parker, left, celebrates with Jackson Erickson after St. Dom’s scored during the first half to put the Saints up 1-0 against NYA in Auburn on Wednesday.

St. Dom’s Alex Parker kicks on goal against NYA’s Samuel Nye during the first half in Auburn on Wednesday.


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