GARDINER — For the first time in seven years, the Monmouth boys soccer team will play for a Gold Ball.

The second-seeded Mustangs blanked No.1 Richmond 4-0 in the Class D South regional final Tuesday night at Hoch Field, earning Monmouth its first trip to a state final since wining the Class C South title in 2016. The Mustangs will face Easton (14-1-2) in Saturday’s state championship.

Senior Brandon Smith netted two second-half goals and played a role in all four tallies for the Mustangs (14-1-1), who last won a Class D regional championship in 2000 — the same year they finished off back-to-back Class D state championships.

“It feels pretty good,” said the senior Smith, who has 35 goals this season, one away from equaling the school’s single-season record. “It’s been a while for us in soccer. We knew we could win this game. We knew it would be tough, but we picked it up and the boys did really well.”

Richmond finished 14-2-0, with both losses coming to Monmouth.

After a choppy start to the proceedings, Smith produced a Richmond own goal off a 27th-minute corner kick that he drilled at the near post and into the net off Bobcat Jacob Gay.

Eleven minutes later, Smith skipped a low shot off the turf to force a diving save from Richmond keeper David Edwards. When Edwards couldn’t handle the ball cleanly, Noah Schultz raced in to clean up the mess for a 2-0 Mustang lead.

“We were playing helter-skelter (early), and that’s now how we train,” said Monmouth coach Joe Fletcher. “I liked how we composed ourselves. We carried play most of the game.”

Smith went to work in the second half, opening his account in the 51st minute with a rebound goal of his own. He finished off the night by converting from the penalty spot four minutes later.

Monmouth goalkeeper Ezekiel Delorme (12) and forward Brandon Smith (2) celebrate the Mustangs 4-0 win over Richmond in the Class D South boys soccer title game Tuesday in Gardiner. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

“He’s very dynamic,” Fletcher said of Smith. “He’s difficult to defend. He’s a pain to defend.”

The Mustangs didn’t need any more. So in control after the halftime break, it took until the 66th minute until they conceded the period’s only corner kick to the Bobcats. Richmond produced only two on-target shots over the final 40 minutes of play.

Monmouth outscored the opposition 16-1 in the regional tournament with two clean sheets, including Tuesday’s final.

“This is awesome. It’s the best feeling ever,” said senior center back Luke Harmon, who was in grade school the last time Monmouth won a regional title. “We had a great success last year in baseball, so we kind of know what we’re doing in that sense, but whoever we play from the North is going to be a tough matchup. They’re going to play hard, so we’ve got to be ready.”

After years in Class C, Monmouth will play for the state championship in its first since since returning to Class D.

“We felt, to be honest, our numbers indicated we should be in D,” Fletcher said. “We’ve been building this program for a long time. It’s solid. We knocked on the door a few times in C and we were really competitive a lot of years, but not quite good enough to get over the hump. We’re back to where we thought we would be.”

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story