FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue’s Victoria Newbill has taken numerous penalty strokes this season during practice, but none of those carried quite the weight of her most recent penalty stroke.
With a berth in the Class A East semifinals on the line, Newbill — a senior captain — converted a penalty stroke with 32 seconds remaining in overtime as Mt. Blue defeated Cony, 1-0, in a quarterfinal game Saturday.
Newbill chose the bottom left corner of the cage to beat Cony goaltender Madeline Lewis and eliminate the Rams.
The Cougars thought they had scored the game-winning goal a few seconds earlier when Newbill swatted a shot past Lewis, but the officials had already blown the play dead and signaled for a penalty stroke.
The penalty stroke was called after Cony’s Delaney Keithley used her body to prevent a goal.
“They’ve worked so hard all season and we’ve had so many overtimes,” Mt. Blue coach Jody Harmon said. “It always comes right down to the end. It comes down to guts and that’s definitely what we have.”
Newbill had plenty of time to think over her shot as Harmon called a timeout prior to the penalty stroke.
“She was just like, ‘Deep breath, deep breath,’ because yesterday in practice she got a couple of us girls together and that’s what we were doing — taking strokes and strokes,” Newbill said.
“It’s something I’m comfortable with. I wasn’t super nervous going into it, but she was just like, ‘Deep breath, you know how to do these.’ “
Newbill said she thought about shooting toward the top right corner, but said she’s been known to overshoot when aiming for the top corners. Instead, she opted for the lower right corner and came away with her second consecutive overtime winner against the Rams.
Aside from the penalty stroke, Lewis was a wall for the Rams. She finished with 12 saves, 10 coming in the second half. She helped Cony fend off two penalty corners with no time remaining in regulation to force the extra session.
After scoring the game-winning goal, Newbill offered her condolences by giving Lewis a hug.
“I just said good job,” Newbill said. “It’s hard one-on-one because if I miss it it’s hard on me and if she misses it it’s hard on her. It’s really stressful. I could see it really bummed her out and she’s a senior, too. She did really good throughout the entire game. She’s a really good goalie.”
Both teams had their opportunities in regulation. The Rams had nine penalty corners in the first half and another five in the second half. Lindsay Watts had a shot graze the outside of the cage with 2:43 remaining in the first half and Keithley couldn’t get a clean shot off when left open to the left of Mt. Blue goalkeeper Whitney Levesque with 23 minutes left in regulation.
“It was a very evenly matched game,” Cony coach Holly Daigle said. “We love playing Mt. Blue. They’re a great challenge. Some opportunities that I wish we could have capitalized on could have made a difference in the game, but I’m so proud of the way my team played. To have it come down to the wire like that, you can’t ask for more effort from the girls.”
Levesque earned the win in goal for the Cougars, stopping all six shots she faced.