Pair of second-half goals helps Madison defeat Penquis for inaugural 8-player championship
AUGUSTA — History was guaranteed to be made when Penquis Valley High School and Madison Area Memorial High School met for the inaugural girls 8-player soccer championship on Saturday, Nov. 11 on the artificial turf of Fuller Field at Cony High School. The Southern Maine champion Bulldogs (16-2) broke a 1-1 tie with two goals in the second half to go into the record books as the first ever 8-player champions.
Madison, the team won its first soccer championship after having fallen in the 2017 Class C championship 1-0 vs. Houlton High School, had over a half dozen shots on goal early on as well as a run of three corner kicks before the Northern Maine champion Patriots (16-1) could apply some pressure at the other end of the field.
Penquis freshman Violet Chai had the ball near the top of the box when she made a move to create some space between herself and the defender. Chai got a shot off and she snuck it inside the left post for a 1-0 lead at the 10:33-mark of the opening half.
Madison junior striker Raegan Cowan entered the state championship with 56 goals scored, including four in the 5-2 victory over Rangeley Lakes Regional High School in the South finale. About three and a half minutes after Chai’s goal, Cowan broke away and got the ball into the left corner of the Penquis goal to tie the game at 1-1.
“I knew they would be trouble coming in, I have been watching them all year,” Penquis Chris Cowing said.
Cowan struck again early in the second half with a goal, her 58th in 18 games, from the right at the 26:59-mark.
The Bulldogs — the team finished with seven consecutive wins and won 11 of the final 12 matches — had an insurance goal halfway through the second as junior Ella Haynie kicked in a rebound for the 3-1 advantage.
The three goals were the most yielded by Penquis all season, as previously the Patriots had allowed just four in 16 contests.
Penquis sophomore Brooklyn Decker made 14 saves on 25 shots, significantly more than Madison junior Allison Tuscan’s one save on three shots.
Downing said the result in the state championship was not what he and the players wanted but he is still very proud of the team that made its first appearance in a Maine final in nearly 40 years.
Penquis won the 1984 girls Class B title with a 3-2 victory over Richmond High School (in the program’s other state soccer championship berth the 1981 girls fell in the Class B finale 3-1 to the Hyde School of Bath).
This year’s soccer team was the first Patriot girls squad to reach a state championship since the 1999 softball team appeared in the Class C finale, an 8-5 defeat to Jay High School.
The last time a team from the school advanced to a state championship came in the 2012-13 basketball season as the Patriot boys won the Class C title.
“I’m proud of each and every one of these girls for what they did and this season was nothing short of amazing,” Downing said, about his first season guiding the Patriots. He mentioned how the Patriots got to the state championship by virtue of winning a semifinal in double overtime and earned the Northern Maine title on penalty kicks.
“One of the things that really stood out was on our way home from regionals, you couldn’t help but feel for the girls,” he said. “Because when they held up that trophy they said ‘we have always been the team that got made fun of, we have always been the team that was bad, and now we’re here and we just did this.’ I think the fact we were able to put something like this together is beyond awesome.”
Penquis team members are seniors Layla Chai, Addison Conklin, Ciara Hussey, Hannah Legere, and Destiny Sibert; juniors Mackenzie Fernald and Rylee Heal; sophomores Brooklyn Decker, Amara Driscoll, and Caysie Moore; freshmen Violet Chai, Ashley Ladd, and Ava Shoopman; and coach Sasha Bladen and head coach Chris Downing.
Madison 3, Penquis 1
PEN 1 0 – 1
MAD 1 2 – 3
First: P – V. Chai; M – Cowan
Second: M – Cowan (Robbins); M – Haynie (Robbins)
Saves: P – Decker 14, M – Tuscan 1
Corner kicks: P – 2, M – 6
Records: P 16-1, M 16-2