READFIELD — The reigning Class C state champions took a successful first step toward holding onto that Gold Ball for yet another year.

Behind a hat trick from senior midfielder Lily Caban, No. 2 Maranacook pounded No. 7 Mountain Valley 8-0 in a Class C South girls soccer quarterfinal Tuesday night at Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams. Addie Watson and Natalie Mohlar each added a pair of goals for the unbeaten Black Bears (14-0-1).

Caban, a four-year starter, had been waiting for a night like this one.

“I was excited,” said Caban, who played a role in five of the eight goals. “I don’t usually get to score, so that was quite exciting. I think there’s always some anxiety (in the playoffs). We just try and push through as a team.”

Maranacook will host No. 6 Old Orchard on Saturday in the regional semifinals. With top-seeded Hall-Dale’s loss to Traip Academy earlier in the day, it leaves the Black Bears as the highest remaining seed in the tournament.

“It’s a different animal in the playoffs,” Maranacook coach Travis Magnusson said. “I told the girls at halftime to look at what they’ve built. The place was absolutely packed, when five or six years ago we were hardly getting anybody at our games. It’s a testament to our players and our program here.”

After holding possession for the first 10-plus minutes, Mohlar’s lefty boot off the near post handed Maranacook the lead for good in the 13th minute. Five minutes later, Caban opened her account from 20 yards out.

Caban got the play started in the midfield shortly before halftime, springing Mohlar free down the left wing. Mohlar crossed in front to Watson for a one-time tap-in. The Black Bears went into the break with the 3-goal lead and all of the momentum.

Watson added a second on 45 minutes to start a three-goals-in-three-minutes outburst for the home team, with Caban potting goals in the 47th and 48th minutes.

“It was my team. It was all my team,” Caban said. “They were setting me up and working really hard to get me the ball. I wasn’t focused on scoring, but everybody was playing so unselfishly tonight.” 

“She did a lot of great things,” Magnusson said of Caban. “Up front, we’re so dynamic with two or three, whatever we put up there. We’re just really dangerous. I think we’re playing our best right now.”

Mohlar struck again in the 62nd minute, and a Mountain Valley own goal in the 75th minute completed the scoring.

The final scoreline did little to suggest how well Mountain Valley keeper Justice Gendron performed. Gendron finished with 18 saves, including four point-blank second-half stops. She twice turned away Maranacook freshman Phoebe Bell from inside of 10 yards by tipping the ball over the crossbar behind her.

For the Black Bears, those near-misses proved just blips on the radar, as stout as they were on the defensive side of the ball. The Falcons mustered one shot on target — a toothless 40-yard free kick from Jaden Boulanger in the 32nd minute — and only three attempts in the entirety of the 80 minutes.

Maranacook cruised to its first playoff win since last fall’s state final. 

“We’ve only given up six goals all year, and one was a (penalty kick),” Magnusson said. “We’re very good defensively. We’ve been tested this year, and they’re always up to the challenge.

“At all levels, we’re peaking. We feel like someone is going to have to play really, really well to beat us.”

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