The Red Eddies reached the Eastern A quarterfinals in 2013, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion at Hampden on penalty kicks. As Wednesday’s quarterfinal with Lewiston remained scoreless, they wanted to be sure history didn’t repeat itself.
“We were ready for it, but we’re glad it didn’t come down to that,” said EL junior defender Sarah Hammond.
EL got the game-winner with 7:55 left in the first overtime. Freshman Piper Norcross buried a chance in front, lifting EL to the hard-fought 1-0 win over Lewiston.
“Last year was a downer,” said senior forward Olivia Paione. “This is definitely a better ending.”
EL advances to Saturday’s Eastern A semifinal and will host Brunswick at noon. The Dragons beat Messalonskee, 2-0, on Wednesday.
“Throughout the year, we’ve been able to finish and put the ball in the back of the net,” said EL coach Craig Latuscha. “That’s why we’ve been so successful. We’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately. Obviously, we’re getting our chances, but we’re just not putting the ball into the back of the net. Fortunately, we were able to put one in today.”
Seventh-seeded Lewiston finished the year 6-8-1. The Blue Devils produced a great effort against second-ranked EL (11-1-3) and finished a remarkable season in fine fashion, despite the loss.
“I can’t be any more proud,” said Lewiston coach Brant Remington. “I’m extremely happy for them. I could have asked for anything else.”
EL beat Lewiston 3-0 in the first meeting but tied the Blue Devils 1-1 last week in the regular-season finale. That game was similar to Wednesday. EL had ample opportunities but couldn’t finish. EL outshot Lewiston 21-4 but hit the post, missed an open net and wasted some prime chances from just a few feet away.
“I think we were thinking too much,” said Hammond. “We practice finishing all the time in practice. But we came through.”
The game-winner followed an EL throw-in.
Lewiston was trying to slow the pace of overtime down by subbing players. When the Blue Devils couldn’t get subs on the field, EL was able to continue charging right off the throw. Freshman Lauren Berube won possession on the side and put it in front for Norcross.
“It’s all a team effort,” said Norcross. “Everybody was playing hard and passing the ball. It just happened to come to me, and I finished it for them.”
Norcross had a number of chances early in the game. She put a prime opportunity over the net and missed an open net late in regulation after a nice challenge by Paione to force Lewiston keeper Kelsey St. Cyr out of the goal. She said those near-misses came to mind in overtime.
“I knew I had to finish it, because it might be our only chance,” Norcross said.
Lewiston showed it came to play right from the start. The Blue Devils produced a pair of early corner kicks and a shot by Adela Kalilwa.
Gabby Barrett had a bid a few minutes later. EL countered and started getting chances of its own.
“We stuck to our game and didn’t change a thing,” said Remington, who team knew for more than a week that they’d likely draw EL. “We knew what we had to do. We have six seniors. They haven’t made the playoffs throughout their entire careers. They weren’t going to go out easy.”
Paione hit the post late in the half and shotwide on another attempt. Norcross got a nice cross from Emily Jacques but put it over the net.
In the second half, Paione, Francesca-Beth Haines, Norcross and Berube all had opportunities.
“It is discouraging when you shoot and shoot and shoot and can’t get one,” Latuscha said. “If you stay positive and continue to work hard, one of them is bound to go in.”
Lewiston got another outstanding defensive effort from Morgan Eliasen in back and St. Cyr in goal. The junior keeper, who was outstanding in the 1-1 tie last week, finished with 10 saves. EL’s Molly Murray had four stops.
“All season she’s been getting better and better,” Remington said of St. Cyr. “She kept us in the game last time we were here, and again today, she was on.”