(Windham ME) One team separated the Thornton Academy girls’ soccer from a perfect season and a trip to the Class A state finals.
That team was the Windham Eagles.
The #1 seed Eagles (16-0-1) topped #3 seed TA, 4-3, in double overtime to take the Western Class A title on a nice Wednesday night at Windham.
For Thornton Academy (14-2-1), this was the second loss to the Eagles this season.
Windham will now face Bangor (16-1) on Saturday morning (10AM) at McMann Field in Bath.
The Eagles built up a 3-1 lead early in the second half before the visitors rallied back to tie the score with 13 1/2 minutes left in regulation.
The Trojans carried the play during the rest of the second half and came very close (Amanda Arnold in the last minute) to taking the Western Class A title in regulation.
I thought that the Eagles dominated the first overtime. Jenna Soucy had an excellent chance in the first minute and ten minutes later teammate Shannon Valente hit the crossbar.
This game was decided in the second overtime.
Sophomore Ciera Berthiaume (2 goals/1 assist) was able to force a corner kick early in the overtime after a run down the left side.
Ciera wasted little time kicking the corner kick and that may have been part of the reason TA wasn’t completely ready for what happened.
“I wanted to bend the kick around to the inside, ” Ciera told me afterwards.
And that she did. Senior Emily Gorrivan and the ball arrived just inside the near post at about the same time. Emily simply redirected the ball into the net…….game, set, match!
“It was an amazing ball,” recalled Emily regarding her 7th goal, after the game. “I hustled my hardest to get there.”
Eagles coach Deb Lebel on Emily: “She’s not a starter. She plays because she never stops out there and she can finish as she did tonight.”
This was the second straight game that someone unexpected was key to a Windham tournament victory. Backup goalie Liz Mycock had her moment during the penalty kick part of the semifinal win over Scarborough.
What surprised me in this game were the goals and scoring chances both teams had. Thornton Academy came into the game with five straight shutouts and had allowed only seven goals the entire season. Windham had twelve shutouts this seasons and had only given up five goals.
So you would expect some tight defense and probably a 1-0 final score?
But the excellent crowd, from both schools, instead saw goals and plenty of penalty-area defense.
Windham tallied first as Shannon Valente intercepted a clearing pass and quickly set up Ciera Berthiaume (8th goal) wide open in the middle. That goal was at 32:43 of the first half.
At 4:51 the Eagles got in close and took a couple of shots that TA goalie Lexi Nason blocked. Jenna Soucy finally put a rebound into the net notching her 22nd goal of the season. Lauren Shoemaker was awarded an assist.
Thornton Academy got an early goal in the second half after a long run by Tori Daigle. Tori got past at least three Eagles on her way to her 12th goal of the season.
Windham was back with an answer less than four minutes later. Once again it was Ciera Berthiaume (9th goal) finishing after a nice pass. Cassie Symonds collected her 10th career assist at 35:15.
Those thinking a 3-1 lead would be safe were in for a surprise. Five minutes later Amanda Arnold (23rd assist) occupied several defenders and GK Kate Kneeland before sending a pass to her left to teammate Haley DeGraca (14th goal) who faced a wide open net.
Now down 3-2, the team from Saco wasn’t done. Megan Hurrell (4th goal) came out of a scramble in front with the tying goal with 13:28 left.
The Trojans had the better of the chances in the last 13+ minutes but couldn’t turn their comeback into a victory.
The most heralded player in the game was TA’s Amanda Arnold. The talented senior finished her career with over sixty goals and thirty assists. Her pass to teammate Haley DeGraca setting up the second Trojans goal was a classic unselfish play.
The key to this win for Windham was limiting the touches Amanda Arnold and speedy Tori Daigle got in the overtimes.
Ariana Davidson disagreed intensely enough with the referee in the second half to get sent off the field. She would later return.
Windham had plenty of terrific players but if I had to choose one it would probably be midfielder Cassie Symonds. Cassie controls a lot of space for the Eagles. The junior is one of the few I’ve seen who can consistently get her head on goal kicks.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)