The Raiders marched through Mountain Valley Conference play this season allowing just six goals in 14 games — never more than one in a game — and goalkeeper MaKenzie Thibeault posted eight shutouts.

When the Raiders took an early one-goal lead in the first half of their Class C South semifinal against Lisbon on Monday, the Greyhounds knew they had a steep hill to climb.

“They have a very strong defense,” Lisbon High School coach Julie Petrie said. “I think, the strongest in the conference; they’ve let up so (few) goals. They did a great job of stopping balls and clearing quickly. I think we could have been more aggressive on offense, but very good sticks for them.”

The Raiders added to their early lead twice over, and ran off with a 3-0 win over the Greyhounds, punching their ticket to the regional final against St. Dominic Academy.

“It was tougher today, (Lisbon was) really jamming down the middle,” Oak Hill coach Betsy Gilbert said. “They did really well blocking us down there. We had to work hard to get the girls to get the ball more to the outside to really beat that first line of attack there.”

Lexi Fuller and Lindsey Wright anchor the Raiders’ back line in front of Thibeault, and they helped frustrate the Lisbon offense.

“Our defense is always rock solid,” Gilbert said. “(Fuller and Wright) lead our defense. They are some of the reasons we are so successful. As a coach, to be able to sit back and to know the ball is going down there and I’m not worried, then it’s making sure we can get everybody else in position. It’s a good problem to have.”

The Raiders (15-1-0) relied on that quick transition to earn the first goal of the contest, with 12:15 to play in the opening half. Once in the Lisbon circle, Maegan Sheehy took a shot that ricocheted off Lisbon keeper Mikaylia Harnden to Hayden Spencer, who spun to her right and fired it into the cage.

Fewer than six minutes later, Oak Hill struck again. Mercedes Pease took a shot on her reverse stick that Harnden saved with her blocker glove, but the ball landed right at Abby Asselin’s feet, and the sure-handed forward tapped it in for a 2-0 advantage.

“We didn’t spread the ball around as much as we had planned in preparation for this,” Petrie said. “It’s different saying that than getting on the field and they’re everywhere. That took us out of it a little bit.”

The Greyhounds (10-6-0) came out of the break with fervor, taking the play into the Oak Hill end for the majority of the first 15 minutes of the second half.

“Finishing is our Achilles heel against them,” Petrie said. “At times we even dominated. But we went to ‘hit and hope’ at times, and desperation hits toward the cage, and they have good sticks.”

After weathering that storm, Oak Hill tacked on a third goal with 6:53 to play. Freshman Desirae Dumais got her stick on a long shot by Zoe Buteau and caused the ball to change direction quickly in front of the cage.

“I thought at times we played a little too defensive instead of offensive-minded,” Petrie said. “I thought we came out really strong (in the second half), which was great, but we didn’t capitalize on those opportunities.”

“(Lisbon), they’re well-coached, they work hard, and they’re just stellar athletes,” Gilbert said. “We have to get the girls ready to really attack first. We did that today.”

Oak Hill will face St. Dominic Academy (13-2-1) in the Class C South final Wednesday at Massabesic High School in Waterboro. The Saints and Raiders played in the same conference for the past several years, but this season did not meet after St. Dom’s moved to the Western Maine Conference.

“Haven’t seen them, so we’re not sure,” Gilbert said. “We’re just going out there and playing our game. If we go out, play hard and play as a team, that’s all that matters.”


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