YARMOUTH — The Angel Huntsman Show plays in all weather.

Much to the chagrin of the St. Dom’s Saints.

Wednesday afternoon, at a wet and windy Lewis Field, Huntsman, the junior standout forward of the top-ranked North Yarmouth Academy Panthers, put on a first half show in the Class D South quarterfinals to ensure her team would advance easily in its quest for a third consecutive Gold Ball.

Huntsman scored just 10 seconds into the game and added three more goals before halftime as the Panthers opened up a 5-0 halftime lead and went on to a 7-1 victory over the eighth-seeded Saints.

NYA improved to 14-0-1 on the year, ended St. Dom’s’ season at 5-11 and in the process, advanced to Friday’s semifinal round where it will host either No. 4 Richmond (9-5) or fifth-ranked Temple Academy (7-7).

“I think we’re really excited about where we are right now,” said Huntsman. “We have to keep the intensity and stay focused and play our game. If we play as a team, I think we can make it to the end.”

Step one

NYA was the best team in Class D in both 2018 and 2019 and might have three-peated were it not for a COVID-shortened season in 2020, but this year’s team has had no peer from the get-go.

The Panthers started by blanking visiting Old Orchard Beach (9-0), then downed visiting Richmond and Waynflete by 5-0 margins, defeated visiting St. Dom’s (6-1), then blanked visiting Traip Academy (6-0) and host St. Dom’s (5-0) before giving Class B power all it could handle in a 1-1 road tie. NYA then dispatched host Sacopee Valley (9-0), host Old Orchard Beach (6-0), host Richmond (7-1), visiting Gray-New Gloucester (8-1), visiting Waynflete (5-0), visiting Sacopee Valley (10-0) and finally host Traip Academy in overtime, 1-0.

After their best regular season in 17 years, the Panthers earned the top seed in Class D South.

St. Dom’s went 4-10 in the regular season, then advanced Monday with a 5-0 win over No. 9 Pine Tree Academy in the preliminary round.

NYA didn’t just dominate the Saints twice during the regular season, the Panthers also took the lone prior playoff meeting, 1-0, way back in the 1999 Western C semifinals.

Wednesday, on a raw, 46-degree and windy afternoon that featured rain almost throughout, NYA seized control immediately and never looked back.

North Yarmouth Academy senior captain Maggie Holt boots the ball past St. Dom’s freshman Charli Apodaca early in the Panthers’ 7-1 victory Wednesday in Yarmouth. Michael Hoffer photo

If you blinked at the start of the game, you might have missed Huntsman’s first goal.

Sophomore Hayden Wienckowski sent a long ball up the right side to start the game, Huntsman ran it down, got past a defender, then fired high past St. Dom’s freshman goalkeeper Anna Theriault for a 1-0 lead just 10 seconds in.

“(Coach) Ricky (Doyon) was saying we needed to start out strong and that’s what we did,” said Huntsman. “We’ve worked on that all season and it worked this time. That was amazing.”

“That was a great finish,” Doyon said. ‘We know what Angel can do. That was a great ball to her from Hayden. I wanted the ball to get in the corner and if it got over their head, to go in.”

The Panthers were far from finished, as after Theriault stopped shots from Wienckowski and Huntsman and Wienckowski and Huntsman each missed wide, NYA got a corner kick in the 12th minute and for the umpteenth time this fall, a serve from senior captain Maggie Holt found Huntsman in front, who headed the ball home for a 2-0 advantage.’

“At this point, I know where Maggie usually kicks it and I go to that area,” Huntsman said. “I just have to put my head into it and it goes in. I give all credit to Maggie.”

After Huntsman missed high on a rush, she scored her third goal in the 19th minute, this time from freshman Emily Robbins, as Huntsman got the ball, faked out a defender, then finished with a low shot.

With 16:31 left in the first half, Huntsman took a pass from senior Marion Robbins, broke free and scored again to make it 4-0.

“I got the ball in the right spots,” Huntsman said. “Credit to my teammates. They set me up and I just had to finish for them.”

“Angel really opened it up today,” said Doyon. “She played really well. It was a great team effort all the way around.”

The Panthers finally got a non-Huntsman goal with 8:07 on the first half clock, as senior Lila Jackson one-timed a shot into the upper 90 off a deflection on a free kick and NYA took a 5-0 lead to halftime.

The Panthers didn’t let up in the second half and extended their advantage when junior Vy Tran scored on a breakaway with 31:35 left.

WIth 25:41 remaining, junior Anna Belleau scored on a breakaway to make it 7-0.

St. Dom’s didn’t even register a shot until 21:56 was left, as a hand ball was called on a corner kick and the Saints earned a penalty kick, but a bid from senior Emma Roy was denied by NYA junior goalkeeper Charlotte Harper-Cunningham.

St. Dom’s did break through with 6:58 on the clock, when senior Jessica Zimmerman set up sophomore Avery Gravel for a high shot into the upper left corner.

The Panthers slammed the door and celebrated their 7-1 victory.

“We wanted to take care of business and get other girls in and we were able to do that,” Doyon said. “We’re confident, but you can’t be overconfident. I tell the girls that anything can happen in the postseason. Teams play differently. Every game, you have to be up for that game.”

NYA finished with a 14-2 shots advantage, got one save from Harper-Cunningham and had an 11-1 edge in corner kicks.

Theriault and freshman Charli Apodaca combined to make seven saves for the Saints.

Staying home

NYA beat Richmond twice this year, 5-0 at home and 7-1 away. The Panthers 2-0 all-time versus Richmond in the playoffs, prevailing in the 2018 Class D Final (1-0) and again in the 2019 regional final (2-0).

NYA didn’t meet Temple Academy this fall and the teams have no playoff history.

“I’m really excited to go all the way to the end,” Huntsman said. “I want to win another Gold Ball so badly. Especially for last year’s seniors who didn’t get to play and this year’s seniors too.”

“I love this team,” said Doyon. “It’s a great bunch of girls. They play hard. We take it one game at a time. We’ll see what Friday brings.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.


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