MONMOUTH — The minutes couldn’t click off the scoreboard fast enough for Monmouth Academy.
And they didn’t.
Nursing a one-goal lead late in the second half, Monmouth surrendered two goals in the final eight minutes as seventh-seeded Sacopee Valley upset the second-seeded Mustangs, 2-1, in a Western Class C quarterfinal match Wednesday.
“It’s disappointing, because we had a fantastic year,” Monmouth coach Gary Trafton said. “It’s two seasons. There’s a regular season to get a bye or get home-field advantage, and then the second season is two weeks long, and we unfortunately had a little bit of unfortunate luck in the second season.”
Sacopee Valley’s Courtney Ryan sent the Hawks sideline into a frenzy after heading a ball into the back of the net past Monmouth goalkeeper Mikayla Cameron in the 88th minute.
The Hawks advance to the regional semifinals and will play at sixth-seeded Waynflete.
Sacopee Valley (10-2-3) was inches from taking the lead just seconds earlier when Jade Jordan rung a shot off the far post. Abby Hughes tracked down the loose ball and crossed it into the box, where it skimmed the top of Ryan’s head and redirected in.
“It’s unreal, because we’ve all worked so hard,” Ryan said. “We’ve been playing soccer together since June. We play out there with unity and we play out there with pride, and to see the ball go into the back of the net, it makes all the hard work we do worth it.”
The Hawks dominated time of possession throughout the match, but found themselves trailing 1-0 at halftime.
Monmouth (12-2-1) scored on its first shot of the contest off the foot of Emily Grandahl. Following a Sacopee Valley handball, Grandahl buried the ensuing direct kick from 20 yards that deflected off goalkeeper Madison Day’s hands and into the net on the near post.
That goal didn’t deter Sacopee Valley in the slightest, as it continued to control possession. The Hawks had three corner kicks in the final 22 minutes of the first half but couldn’t get a shot by Cameron.
“We’ve lost two games this year by a score of 1-0, and we had very similar occurrences where we kept pounding and pounding,” Sacopee Valley coach Kevin Murphy said. “At halftime I told the girls, ‘Relax, it will come to you.’ As time goes on, you look at your watch, but it does. It came to them, and they played hard.”
The chances kept coming in the second half as the Mustangs were content with playing defense.
Trafton added an extra defender in the middle of the field to try and slow the Hawks down, but the opportunities didn’t wane. Sacopee Valley had eight shots on goal in the second half, and a number of others went just high or just wide of the net.
“They packed it in pretty good,” Murphy said. “At times they had five or six in the backfield, two deep on our striker, and they were trying to keep us at bay. They did a great job. They came out, stuck one in and played well.”
With the clock winding down on the Hawks’ season, they finally broke through in the 73rd minute. McKenzie Murphy found Hughes in the box and Hughes stuck her foot out just enough to get a piece of the ball, sneaking it in the near post to tie the game.
“It’s a feeling like no other,” Hughes said. “It’s a feel of want and a feel like you have the team on your back.”
Despite suffering the loss, Cameron made several key saves to keep the Mustangs in the game. She made a leaping save on Ryan with three minutes left, punching the ball away on a shot just under the crossbar.
“She had problems this year with high ball,s and we worked and worked and worked on them,” Trafton said. “She must have seen a thousand high balls this season, and tonight she stepped up and knocked two of them out. She played fantastic tonight.”
Cameron finished with 10 saves.
The Mustangs had just one shot on goal in the second half, and it came in the final seconds. Day swallowed up the shot and held the ball as the last couple seconds ticked off the clock. She recorded three saves.
“I think we definitely dominated that game,” Ryan said. “They had an early goal, but we came back. We showed them what we were made of, and it was definitely a matter of time.”