Leah Maheux, right, of Leavitt shoots on goal while being defended by Kate Peters of Lincoln Academy during the first half in Turner on Wednesday. Maheux scored on the kick to put the Hornets up 1-0.
TURNER — Wednesday night’s KVAC Class B South girls’ soccer game between Lincoln Academy and Leavitt ended with a bang.
It just wasn’t the kind of bang Leavitt senior Sophie Gilbert wanted to hear.
A game that saw plenty of scoring and lots of action all around went right down to the final seconds of the second period of overtime. That’s when Gilbert’s header off a corner kick struck the top-right corner of the goal frame and forced the Hornets to settle for a 4-4 tie on senior night at Libby Field.
Leavitt freshman Jayden Carpenter took a long shot at Eagles (5-6-2) goalie Kortney McKenna in the waning seconds of the second five-minute period of overtime, but McKenna was able to punch the ball over the net for a corner kick. Carpenter ran to the right corner to take the kick, which first found the head of Alison Noniewicz before making it to Gilbert.
“I saw that no one was marking me and I saw how perfect that corner was, so I headed it once and it didn’t go where I wanted, then I had the perfect opportunity, just went over,” Gilbert said. “I thought it was (going in) until I turned.”
It was a near-miss and a missed opportunity for a win that the Hornets (3-8-2) needed to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The tie all but locked up a postseason berth for the Eagles.
“The win is what you always want to come away with. But I think you could hear the excitement on the sidelines,” Leavitt coach Chris Cifelli said. “As their send-off, definitely left a memorable game for (the seniors).”
Gilbert and the Hornets’ other five seniors — Ally Ryan, Zoe Nadeau, Ashley Blouin, Carly Jordan and Becca Fogg — will play once more at home on Friday to end their season and their high-school careers, but Wednesday night provided a chance to honor them for their contributions to the program.
“The seniors mean a lot. The one thing I’ll say is, regardless of what our record looks like, the kids have been so supportive of each other,” Cifelli said. “They’ve really been a tight unit, and so the seniors obviously wanted to play hard in their last game, and the underclassmen wanted to honor them, and also set the tone of what they want their senior night to be in the future.”
While the pregame festivities belonged to the senior class, the Hornets’ freshmen made their mark in the game. Leah Maheux scored the game’s first goal 8:30 in, then scored again just over five minutes into the second half to tie the game 2-2. Carpenter’s corner kicks led to the other two goals, while Noniewicz had a a few chances on the attack and Kayliegh Gilbert showed solid play on defense.
“I wish that I could be with them throughout their high school (careers) because they’re just going to get better and better,” Sophie Gilbert said. “They’re a huge aspect to this team. They help us with everything.”
The 1-0 lead that Maheux gave the Hornets lasted just over two minutes, until Lincoln Academy’s Chelsea Williams quickly took a direct kick just outside the box before Leavitt could set up its wall and the shot went past Hornets goalie Shelby Varney.
Emily Harris gave the Eagles the lead 10 minutes later on a long shot that went off Varney’s gloves and in.
“I think we knew that through … the direct kick, we had kind of given them an opportunity to score a goal. We kind of looked at it as is, that at worst it probably should have been 1-1,” Cifelli said. “So I think that the kids were a little bit inspired (to start the second half).”
Maheux’s goal, set up by Ryan, grabbed momentum for the Hornets. They kept that going for the first 20-plus minutes of the second half. Jenna Boucher scored on a rebound off of Carpenter’s second corner kick of the half 13 minutes in. Her third went right to McKenna, who made an initial save, but was left to helplessly watch Sophie Gilbert blast the rebound into the back of the net with less than 18 minutes remaining.
“Just drive it in,” Gilbert said was going through her head.
The rest of regulation felt “long,” according to Gilbert. It didn’t help that the two-goal lead was reduced to one less than two minutes later.
The Hornets tried to draw the Eagles offsides on a direct kick, but the plan backfired. Varney was able to stop Tatum Hancock’s point-blank shot, but Ellie Mathews got to the rebound and put it into the open net.
Hancock tied the game with just under three minutes to play, putting a shot in traffic past Varney.
“(Hancock) does such a good job of finding space and taking defenders on, so I knew that it was going to be a nail-biter,” Cifelli said. “I think we played a little bit too defensive towards the end, that allowed them to creep back in. But I did like our response to it, in the remaining time that was left in regulation, and obviously in overtime.”
“It was probably the most fun game that we’ve played all season,” Gilbert said. “We all worked our butts off, we all wanted this. It’s senior night, under the lights, everyone’s watching. I don’t think we could have asked for anymore than what we got. We played amazing.”
Alison Noniewicz, right, of Leavitt dribbles the ball while being defended by Isabelle Gilbert of Lincoln Academy during the first half in Turner on Wednesday.
Sophie Gilbert of Leavitt celebrates with her teammates after her second half goal put the Hornets up 4-2 over Lincoln Academy in Turner on Wednesday.
Emily Swan of Leavitt sends a cross in front of the Lincoln Academy goal in Turner on Wednesday.
Leah Maheux, right, of Leavitt shoots on goal while being defended by Abby Brewer of Lincoln Academy during the first half in Turner on Wednesday.