BUCKFIELD — The Greenville Lakers took control from the start and dealt the Buckfield Bucks a harsh ending to their season with a 2-0 victory in a Class D South boys’ soccer quarterfinal.

Greenville came out aggressive, and finally broke through with a goal 14 minutes, 13 seconds into Tuesday’s game when Noah Pratt scored off a corner kick.

“I came in, far post, cut to the near post,” Pratt said. “Ben (Baldwin) saw me coming in, nice assist, and I kind of just popped it right in.”

After Pratt’s goal, the Greenville coaches implored their team to continue to be the “more hungry” team. The Lakers kept attacking.

“We came into it thinking that we needed to control the middle of the field, so we went with a 4-4-2 (formation),” Lakers coach Jeff Richards said. “I think that part of it was, we have aggressive players in the middle, so we were able to control the flow of the play out of there. We’ve got some quick guys up front, so it kind of gives us some targets, and we do get control of the ball.”

With seven minutes left in the first half, Connor DiAngelo created space and then booted a shot from outside the 18-yard box that bounced past diving Bucks goalkeeper Jacob Kraske, giving the Lakers a 2-0 advantage.

“The two goals they had seemed to be breakdowns defensively,” Buckfield coach Kyle Rines said. “On the corner kick there, no one stepped; and then the second goal, it looked like a toe ball in the corner of the net. But, you know, that’s how it goes.”

Midway through the first half, Rines moved defender Zack Grover up to play the midfield, and that injected some life to the Bucks’ offensive attack, but they were outshot 6-1 in the half (14-4 in the game).

“We didn’t really get anything going offensively today,” Rines said. “We played way out of our game.

“It just didn’t happen. I think that Greenville won every 50-50 ball, it seemed like. Defensively, we had a great effort, but offensively, we didn’t have enough, not today.”

The Bucks’ best scoring chance of the game came four minutes into the second half when forward Matt Beaucage slipped the defense and drilled a shot toward the goal, but Greenville goalie Evan Bjork stepped up to make the stop.

The Lakers, meanwhile, kept attacking. Kraske, however, kept denying their attempts. He finished with 12 saves.

Greenville, the sixth seed, were confident, despite playing third-seeded Buckfield on the road.

“I think we came in knowing that we should have been a higher seed,” Pratt said, “but we had a few games where we kind of came out and were flat, so we’re definitely making up for it.”

The Lakers (9-5-1) advance to the Class D South regional semifinals, where they’ll host another squad of Lakers, 10th-seeded Rangeley, which upset No. 2 Seacoast Christian on Tuesday.

“These guys deserve it. We’ve been one-and-out the last few years because we’ve been so young,” Richards said. “I had one senior last year, I’ve only got two this year that play, but these guys have all been in it for a while, so they’ve worked hard, they really have.”

The Bucks’ (10-4-1) bid to return to the Class D state championship game came up three games short. They were depleted Tuesday by injuries and a red card, playing without Ethan Jackson, who Rines called “the motor of our team.”

“We had the experience, we’ve been there, done that,” Rines said. “But Jeff does a good job getting his guys ready. And they’re a quality team, a team we haven’t played for a couple years … and they came out ready to play.

“We just couldn’t find the breaks, whether or not it’s just injuries and not having the normal guys we have, or just one of those things.”


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