PORTLAND — As Paige Tuller raced toward the net, she had the puck and the goal in her sights.

She also had Sophie Goulet in hot pursuit.

The Greely girls’ hockey team tried to mount a late comeback Wednesday night but Goulet and her St. Dom’s Saints were going to have none of that. Goulet wasn’t going to let a late rally or the need to take a breather get in the way of an Eastern Maine championship.

“I knew I wasn’t losing this game,” said the senior defender. “I’ve worked too hard this season. My team has worked way too hard this season to let something like that happen. We weren’t going to lose this game.”

Goulet broke up Tuller’s opportunity in the final minute and didn’t even allow a Ranger shot. Moments later, the clock ticked down and the Saints claimed a 3-2 victory at the Portland Ice Arena. The win advances the Saints to Saturday’s state title game against York, which beat Biddeford 4-1.

“I’ve never won an Eastern Maine championship, but my job isn’t done,” said Goulet, who had two goals and hardly took a shift off against Greely.

Anna Desjardin had the other goal for the Saints while goalie Nicole Keaney was superb in goal, stopping 20 shots.

“Their goalie played excellent,” said Greely coach Nate Guerin, whose team opened the game outshooting the Saints 5-1 early. “She’s really improved this year from the first time we saw her. I give her a ton of credit along with the defense. They limited the chances. We still felt like we had our pokes at it.”

Greely, which lost two close regular-season games to the Saints, came out the stronger team. The Rangers were solid defensively and did a tremendous job bottling up the Saints. Greely was able to move the puck quickly in transition and got some early rushes out of it. Michaela Finnegan had the best bid just 1:40 into the game when she had a one-timer in the slot that Keaney saved.

“We definitely got our nerves out,” said St. Dom’s coach Don Boucher. “We came out flat in the first period. This is the third time we’ve played them and won both other times. They were good games. They were more motivated than we were because they had lost the others.”

The Saints changed all that in the second. St. Dom’s got the offense untracked and started getting some quality shots. The difference was moving the puck across the ice, instead of up and down,  and forcing the Rangers to chase more.

“It’s harder for them to figure out what we’re going to do if we’re moving it back and forth,” said Goulet.

The Saints also tried to keep fresh players on the ice and catch the Rangers winded.

“I think we capitalized on that,” said Boucher. “Every time we scored was late into their shift.”

The first tally came with 9:06 left in the second. That was after Marisa Zamrock had a pair of nice chances to start the period. Lauren Ratsep put a shot on net from the right side. It bounced around in front where Desjardin steered it home.

Greely had a chance to answer when Meg Finlay burst in alone for a shot. Then Finnegan had a backhander on the power play.

After the Rangers failed on the man advantage, St. Dom’s made it 2-0 with 3:11 left in the period. Zamrock was in the left corner and found Goulet pinching in from the point.

“I called for it,” said Goulet, who wristed it into the top of the net. “Marisa saw me. I just aimed top right and put it in.”

Then just 31 seconds into the third, Goulet made it 3-0. Goulet fired a shot from the point, finishing off a Kayla McLellan pass.

“They’ve got outstanding players,” said Guerin. “They just used their skill and used their speed. They caught us flatfooted a couple of times.”

Greely got one back with 11:00 left when Etta Copenhagen popped one into the top of the net. Greely had a chance to rally on the power play and had a Casey Benner shot saved with 7:24 left.

The Rangers really made things interesting when Finley put in a loose puck in front with 1:24 remaining. That had Greely on the attack and looking for the equalizer.

“Once that first one went in, they started buzzing and just kept going,” said Guerin. “They just fired themselves up and went after it.”

The Saints didn’t help their cause. They played a more conservative and defensive in the final few minutes. They were intent on just dumping the puck out of the zone only to watch Greely fire it back in.

“We went with a different style of game, and I think that actually hurt us,” said Boucher. “Their defense did well and were holding the blue line. We should have readjusted our game. We were slow in reacting.”

Greely put the pressure on and Tuller had her chance at a break, but Goulet moved her off the puck. The Rangers never got a threatening shot on net again.

“It was motivating,” said Goulet of the late Greely surge. “I knew we had to hold them. I knew we had to play defensively. We couldn’t afford another goal. We just had to hold what we had and hope for the best.”

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.