North Yarmouth Academy freshman Chas Rohde (13) and Buckfield senior Abram Cormier both go for a header during a quarterfinal game in Yarmout on Thursday. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)

YARMOUTH — One year after missing the playoffs, North Yarmouth Academy’s boys’ soccer team is on the brink of bringing home some hardware.

The top-seeded Panthers scored early and often and went on to a 7-0 victory over No. 4 Buckfield in a Class D South semifinal Thursday afternoon at Lewis Field.

Ryan Baker led a balanced attack with three goals and Alasdair Swett added a pair as the Panthers (14-2) advanced to host the regional final Wednesday against either No. 2 Greenville or No. 3 Temple Academy.

“We’ve played some very nice soccer,” said NYA Coach Martyn Keen after his team’s second consecutive seven-goal playoff showing. “Our starters are doing well and we’ve got three or four kids who can come off the bench and help as well. It’s been fun getting freshmen and some JV kids in playoff games.”

It took 78 seconds for the Panthers to score their first goal. After a failed clear by the Bucks, Chas Rhode pounced on the ball and sent it past goalkeeper Richard Kraske.


Seconds later, play was halted for over 20 minutes when Buckfield senior Shane St. Pierre suffered an apparent seizure after colliding with NYA goalkeeper Julian Etauri. St. Pierre was reportedly coherent when he was taken away by medical personnel.

When play resumed, NYA continued to pressure and was rewarded when Baker scored his first goal, a one-timer, in the 16th minute.

“We’re playing with confidence,” said Baker, who has seven playoff goals. “That early goal helped us out a lot. I thought the break would slow us down, but we came back hot.”

Swett got his first goal, from Baker, with 18:34 to play in the half and the Panthers took a 3-0 advantage to the break.

NYA didn’t relent when the second half began as Baker scored on a corner and Swett finished in a three-minute span for a 5-0 advantage.

Baker got his hat trick with 26 minutes remaining and Reese Merritt scored on a rebound with 22:50 left to cap the scoring.


“We wanted to keep the ball on the ground and move it around and break them down systematically,” said Panthers midfielder and captain Xander Kostelnik. “We did a good job of that.”

NYA enjoyed a 19-3 advantage in shots and took 15 corner kicks to none for the Bucks. Etauri made three saves for the Panthers.

Buckfield (11-4-1) got 12 saves from Kraske.

NYA doesn’t know its next playoff opponent, but with an opportunity to advance to the state final for the first time since 2010 and win a championship for the first time since 2005, the Panthers will focus on what they do best.

“It gets more serious from here on, but it’s there for the taking,” Keen said. ”We’re not being efficient with our chances and my worry is if you play in a tighter game and you don’t finish your chances, it can be a problem, but we’re getting them and we’re playing well, so I really have nothing to complain about.”

Buckfield junior Victor Verrill (3) passes the ball to a teammate before North Yarmouth Academy junior Cam Goodrich (8) can reach him during their quarterfinal game in Yarmouth on Thursday. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)

North Yarmouth Academy senior Xander Kostelnik (10) heads the ball during a quarterfinal game against Buckfield in Yarmouth on Thursday. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)

North Yarmouth Academy freshman Chas Rohde (13) kicks the ball in midair while a Buckfield player attempts to block it during a quarterfinal game in Yarmouth on Thursday. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)

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