RICHMOND — Buckfield had all the right ideas to upset Richmond in Wednesday’s Western Class D girls’ soccer championship.

Stack the box inside 18 yards. Cover the Bobcats’ two chief scoring threats, Amber Loon and Kelsea Anair, like a spectator’s quilt. And make one furious push at the start of the second half to invigorate their own offense.

Only problem is, Richmond is good enough to create space even you’re hogging their elbow room.

Loon scored a goal in each half and Anair collected arguably the most important one with 21 minutes remaining, nudging No. 1 Richmond to a 3-0 victory over No. 3 Buckfield.

“We tried some different strategies. The first half we were a little more defensive, trying to keep the game as close as we could, then kind of make that run to start the second half,” Buckfield coach Travis Magnusson said. “We could have just kept it 1-0. We’ve been a defensive team all year, but we went for it at the end.”

Anair cashed in Kalah Patterson’s corner kick to make it 2-0 and put an end to the Bucks’ pack-it-in preferences. Loon landed her second of the day with 3:33 to go.

Richmond (15-1) won its sixth regional title in eight years and its 13th overall. The Bobcats shoot for their fourth consecutive state championship Saturday at McMann Field in Bath against Washburn.

Arrabine Dunn made 22 saves before leaving the game with an injury sustained on Loon’s second goal for Buckfield (9-5-2), which was playing in the regional final for the first time since 1990.

There were no mysteries between the familiar foes, who meet twice every autumn as rivals in the East-West Conference.

“It was kind of nice when we played Searsport in the semifinals and it was a team we hadn’t seen before, because it’s a double-edged sword when you know a team so well,” Richmond coach Troy Kendrick said. “I really tip my hat to Travis and the Buckfield girls, because they got better every time we played them. They’ve really got some tough, athletic girls that really hustle.”

Amanda Paradis, Ashley Campbell, Bri Damon and Naudia Wesley were sensational defensively in front of Dunn, where Buckfield kept no fewer than five backs hovering throughout the first half.

Despite a 14-0 disadvantage in the shots on goal category, the Bucks trailed by only a goal at the break, and that one came in a fashion that left Buckfield scratching its heads.

Buckfield heard one of the three officials briefly blow the whistle just after the ball had been put in play after a corner kick. The Bucks let up long enough for Autumn Acord to intercept the ball and dish to Loon, who two-touched it to herself around a pair of Bucks before blasting the ball past Dunn from about 10 yards out.

“That wasn’t the reason why we lost, but there was a whistle right as the ball was in play where we stopped,” Magnusson said. “They had plenty of chances anyway. They hit the crossbar. They put the pressure on us all game.”

It was also Loon who rattled the top of the frame from close range. Dunn caught the ball on its way down. Camryn Hurley also shook the post with her bid off a corner kick.

The lack of breathing room left Richmond in an uncomfortable position, and Buckfield tried to take advantage by pushing the issue offensively out of the halftime huddle.

All four of Buckfield’s shots in the game happened in that 15-minute span. Damon and Campbell enjoyed the best looks at the cage for the Bucks, with Patterson, Haley Murphy and Jade Gammon stepping up their defense to preserve the Bobcats’ edge.

“That was scary. You can’t have momentum for 80 minutes. There are going to be those swings in momentum. You have to ride them out and make some plays defensively,” Kendrick said. “We talked about coming out in the second half and we’re either going to get our insurance goal or they’re going to tie this ballgame up. I like the way we responded. I thought we came out pretty well.”

Anair backed up her goal with an assist on Loon’s encore. Loon backed away from three Buckfield defenders before turning and finding the target from 20 yards.

Richmond peppered Dunn and relief goalie Damon with 43 shots.

“They pass the ball very well. I’m sure a lot of these girls play offseason soccer. They have a good touch on the ball, and they’re very well-coached,” Magnusson said. “We had a great season, We really have improved a lot over the last two years. Last year we were playing this team and it was a little bit different.”

[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.