(Windham ME) It wasn’t Halloween but the scare was real for the Windham girls’ soccer team.
Serious underdog Portland had the #1 seed Eagles down, 2-0, eight minutes into the second half but the home team rallied its way to a 3-2 win in wet conditions on Wednesday night.
Windham (14-0-1) will host a semifinals game on Saturday.
Portland (9-7) was the #9 seed and needed to defeat #8 Deering on the 24th to even get into the tournament. It was hard to think that the Bulldogs would have much of a chance against high-scoring Windham. The Eagles already had a 2-0 win over Portland this season and the last time the Bulldogs had even scored a goal against Windham was back in 2009!
But on this night, Portland put up the first two goals (Madison Bolduc and Ella Altidor). Both WHS coach Deb Lebel and Holy Cross commit Cassie Symonds admitted afterwards that the thought that the season might end early went through their heads.
“I knew we had kids who would dig deep but it was worrisome to trail by two goals,” said Coach Lebel.
There was, however, one thing that was consistent during this game and it wasn’t the drizzle/stop, drizzle/stop weather. It was the persistent attack of the defending Class A state champs. Portland GK Taylor Crosby ended up with 24 saves and there were plenty of other Eagles’ shots that went high and wide.
“Their keeper (Taylor Crosby) deserves all the credit in the world,” said WHS Coach Lebel afterwards. “She had an amazing game.”
Portland had few scoring opportunities but they were glittering chances as the visitors poured into the Windham end with player advantages. Senior Madison Bolduc put Portland on the board at 15:40 of the first half.
Freshman Ella Altidor added to the Portland lead eight minutes into the second half. Ella made a terrific hustle play in front of the Portland bench to keep the momentum going toward the Windham goal. Ella later ended up in front of the Eagles’ goal and put home a juicy rebound. The vision of the biggest upset in Maine’s 2014 girls’ soccer season started dancing through my head.
But the never-ending pressure of the Windham attack finally caught up to Portland in the second half. It seemed as if every Bulldog goal kick was immediately controlled by midfielder Cassie Symonds and her teammates and another Eagles’ attack initiated.
At 23:27, junior Ciera Berthiaume finished off a long run, with Merritt Ryan defending, beating Taylor Crosby on a low shot.
That goal just added to the Windham persistence. Freshman Maggie Symonds had a great setup from her sister Cassie in close and missed high. Jenna Soucy shot from long range and Taylor Crosby deflected the shot off the crossbar and over the net.
At 7:13 Jenna launched a long shot into the upper left corner and the teams were even, 2-2. It was Jenna’s 30th goal of the season.
Two minutes later GK Taylor Crosby made her best save of the night robbing Ciera Berthiaume from in close and preserving, for the moment, the 2-2 tie.
Forty seconds later (4:33) Ciera broke away from a tiring Portland defense in the middle and took the equivalent of a running penalty kick to notch the game winner. Taylor never had a chance on Ciera’s second goal of the game and 17th of the season.
(I can edit this blog so if there is a mistake let me know.)
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)