Whatever happens in the state Class D girls soccer championship this afternoon, Wisdom will always have its Eastern Maine Class D title and the reception that the town of St. Agatha gave the Pioneers when they rode in from their 2-1 victory over Greenville in the regional final.
Wisdom’s bus was met by an escort of police cars. Fire trucks and ambulances turned on their sirens. Town residents stood on their porches and cheered for the team.
“We got back and we were expecting just our parents and people who were at the game,” said senior fullback Becky Pelletier. “It was so nice. Some of us were crying because we were surprised to have such a warm welcome.”
“The girls were so excited in the bus,” coach Mim Gagnon said. “It makes us so happy that people pay attention and are proud of what we’ve done.”
All the Pioneers have done is to win the school’s first Eastern Maine championship in any girls sport. But it almost didn’t happen.
Wisdom is a second-half team that has been down and come back in two of its three playoff wins. The halftime score in the regional final against the Lakers was 1-0 in favor of Greenville, but the Pioneers scored twice in the second half for the victory. Wisdom scored two goals in the second half of the semifinal game against top-seeded Ashland. And they’ve been doing that all season.
“[Gagnon] always tells us to play two halves, but we always just seem to play one,” Pelletier said.
“We’re really good at coming back,” said Tracy Guerrette, Wisdom’s leading scorer. “Someone will score against us, but then the momentum will be with us. It’s weird, but I guess we just gain confidence.”
For today’s final against Waynflete of Portland, Guerrette may move from wing to halfback or fullback. Hopefully, Guerrette said, a move would hold off any Flyer scoring attack in the first half.
“Maybe trying me out at halfback will help while we are getting into the game,” she said. “Then when we get up, I’ll go back to my regular position.”
Aside from the second-half comeback, Gagnon said Courtney Lugdon was another element of the Pioneers’ victory in the regional final.
Lugdon is Wisdom’s marking back. Her assignment in the Ashland game was Heidi Maker, the Hornets’ speedy striker.
“Courtney has worked really hard for us and she’s done a great job,” Gagnon said. “She was the key to the Ashland win. With Courtney on her, [Maker] didn’t get the ball that often.”
Guerrette has scored 23 goals, which is more than half of the Pioneers’ offense. Lisa Ouellette, the right wing, has also contributed on offense.
Gagnon’s defensive line of Pelletier, Daisy Mueller, Loni Gervais, Debra Lowe, and goalie Jen Derosier has allowed 21 goals this fall.
Gagnon said she told her team that one thing about today’s 1 p.m. game in Orono is for sure – as two-time defending Class D champions, Waynflete has a lot more to lose than the Pioneers, who have already made history in St. Agatha.
“This is the ultimate,” Gagnon said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. We unseeded the first and second seeds. We’re not even supposed to be here.”