AUBURN — The St. Dominic Academy girls soccer team could have easily just been content with qualifying for the Class C South playoffs as the final team in, but the Saints instead have taken their opportunity and run with it.

That run has gone all the way to the regional semifinals, and the 14th-seeded Saints are hoping to take it even further.

“We were thinking we want to go all the way, honestly,” senior Reagan Hachey said about making the playoffs. “We’re so excited, and we’re ready to take that on.”

Wins were hard to come by for St. Dom’s this season. The Saints had just one victory at the halfway point of the regular season and were 2-8-1 heading into a critical final three games, with their playoff lives on the line.

“When we got down to the end of the season, where there was about three games left, we looked at who we had to face. We knew that if we were able to win one of the games that that would put us in a playoff berth,” first-year coach Tyler Shennett said. “And when Waynflete came around — we tied them the first time, so we were generally hopeful of that — and as soon as it went into overtime we went in and… I think that game is truly when, as Reagan said, that that fire was sparked. We pushed through, and we found a goal within a minute and a half of overtime. Since that moment we kind of knew we were in playoffs.”

That was the penultimate game of the regular season. The finale was a 4-0 loss against Traip Academy, but it did nothing to dampen the Saints’ spirits. They just moved on to a preliminary-round matchup against third-seeded Hall-Dale, which entered the playoffs with a 12-2 record.

“When we got into it and found out we were playing Hall-Dale we did a lot of studying. We scouted the team, we scoped out what they had, what they didn’t have, where we could punch through,” Shennett said. “I think that moment is what really also  helped spark a huge fire under (them). It really got them excited and recognized that ‘Hey, we can do this.'”

The Saints did do it, with a 1-0 victory. It was a bit of an unlikely source that scored the lone goal.

Sure, Natalie Brocke had scored during the regular season, but she’s a freshman. So when she got the ball at her feet with a chance to score she was thinking…

“I don’t know, I was just — I wanted to score, but I also … I just shot and it happened to go in,” Brocke said. “But I had shot many times in the first game and that was the one ball that went in the net.”

Brocke said she didn’t expect that goal to be the only one of the game, but with time winding down the Saints decided to “park the bus,” according to Shennett.

“You know, we wanted more goals, but once we realized there’s about 15 minutes left the 1-0 win was exactly what we wanted,” he said. “And we held up shop, we performed defensively.”

That defense has been led by two other freshmen — Lily Beauchesne and Alexandra Wallingford — at center back. They’ve helped clear the way for junior goalie Hannah Kenney to make what Shennett calls “monster saves.”

“She is hands-down one of the best keepers I have seen, in our conference and out of everyone we’ve played,” Shennett said.

Kenney pitched another shutout in a quarterfinal win over 11th-seeded Carrabec, and Brocke again was the only goal-scorer. She said she was more confident going into her second playoff game, and more confident shooting.

The whole team is now more confident than they were before. More confident than at the start of the season, more confident than after the Waynflete win, more confident than after the Hall-Dale upset. That confidence will be important when the Saints play Traip for a third time this season. The Rangers won both of the regular-season meetings, but Shennett said “we’re different this time.”

“We’re going to throw something different at them. They’re going to expect the same thing, and I think, realistically, since we played Traip, that’s when we peaked,” he said. “We’ve started to peak, and I think we’re peaking at just the right time. All I can say is the team that Traip faced on our last game of the season is not going to be the team they’re facing this time.”

Confidence aside, the Saints still very much see themselves as underdogs, if for no other reason than their own motivation.

“All season everyone was underestimating us, and that just sparked the fire underneath us and gave us the confidence that we wanted to pull out that (Hall-Dale) win to prove everyone wrong,” Hachey said. “That fire underneath us, that fire beneath us, we’re going to bring it to the game at Traip. We want this, and we’re going to want it more than them.”

The last thing Shennett said to his team before they left practice Thursday was, “We have a point to prove.”

“I think the 14 seed is really what is giving the girls the confidence that they have because they know that everyone is looking down upon them,” Shennett said after practice.

Poland’s Emma Mocciola, left and Saint Dominic Academy’s Emily Wallingford battle for the ball during a game last month in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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