MCI’s Allison Hughes jumps into the arms of her mother and head coach Nancy Hughes and father Greg Hughes, right, after defeating Gardiner in the Class B North championship game Tuesday in Hampden. (Michael G. Seamans/Kennebec Journal)

HAMPDEN — As it turns out, Eva Bickford’s goal just over two minutes into the game was all Maine Central Institute needed in its Class B North regional final Tuesday afternoon.

But the Huskies put an emphatic stamp on their 3-0 victory over Gardiner with a pair of sparkling second-half scores from senior forward Addi Williams. The regional title was the third straight for MCI, which moved from Class C to Class B this season. The third-seeded Huskies (13-3-1) will play the South regional winner York on Saturday at Falmouth High School for the Class B state championship. Fourth-seeded Gardiner closes its season at 14-3.

These teams played just two weeks ago with MCI downing the Tigers 1-0 in a fast-paced game on the turf at the University of Maine. The Hampden Academy turf was slower and bumpier, but the Huskies learned from their previous meeting.

“We worked a lot on stopping their transition,” MCI midfielder Allison Hughes said. “Last time we played them, it really went from 25 (yard line) to 25. It was a really fast game, so this time we worked on stopping the transition.”

The Huskies controlled most of the play in the first half, out-shooting the Tigers 7-1. Bickford scored on a hard shot just inside the circle after taking a pass from Hughes on a penalty corner. Gardiner senior Mikayla Bourassa saved a second goal with five minutes left when she reached high above her head on an aerial shot after goalie Avery Backus had been drawn out of position.


The Tigers out-shot the Huskies 5-3 in the second half and nearly tied the game when Maggie Bell confronted senior goalie Elspeth Taylor with a point blank shot at the 10-minute mark. Taylor (six saves) dived to her left and knocked the ball away then stopped a rebound attempt.

“Most of the time it’s instinct,” Taylor said. “All that practice and all that training, you see it you do it.”

Williams brought the large MCI crowd to its feet midway through the second half when she broke into the Gardiner end, spun in front of Backus and passed to Allysah Green at the left post. Green hit her with a return pass for the goal.

“We did a couple give and goes coming up the field around the 25,” Williams said. “I was right in front of the goalie to get it and I did kind of a pivot spin move.”

The Tigers took a timeout and responded with their best flurry of the game as they put three straight shots on goal, all stopped by Taylor.

“I thought we needed to make a quick change then and see if we couldn’t get some offense generated,” Gardiner coach Sharon Gallant said. “We had some chances we just couldn’t finish.”


Williams put the finishing touch on MCI’s performance with her 33rd goal of the season and 90th of her career. She had been stymied on a couple of breakaways but not on this one with just under 12 minutes left.

“That was the best feeling ever,” she said. “I had a breakaway, I moved the goalie middle then drew her back outside and hit the back left (of the cage). It’s such a simple concept but it’s effective.”

The Huskies played sound defense from start to finish, rarely giving the Tigers an opening.

“We did play pretty well,” MCI coach Nancy Hughes said. “It took us a little while to get used to the turf. We wanted to push up and get the ball in our offensive end.”

The Huskies played a Class B schedule when they were in Class C, winning a state title in 2015 and finishing runner-up last year. They’ve made steady progress over the last four years thanks to some hard work.

“We play a winter league, we play some tournaments in the spring,” Allison Hughes said. “We lift three times a week in the summer. We play night games two times a week during the summer. We’ve prepared for this since the state game last year.”

The Tigers weren’t sure what to expect after graduating several key seniors last year.

“I was thrilled to be here,” Gallant said.

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