Messalonskee outslugged Edward Little in the first half of their Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference showdown at Sherwood Heights on Thursday, and the Eagles outran the Red Eddies in the second half, earning an impressive 8-0 win in the battle of the last two remaining unbeaten teams in the conference.

“We really didn’t know what to expect from Edward Little,” Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin said. “We knew they were young, and they’re always strong and physical, and they’re always tough to play that way. They did well holding us back in the first half. The second half, our goal was to score more on corners. That’s something we’ve struggled with.”

The Eagles (7-0) rectified their penalty corner struggles on this day. Five of the Ealges’ eight goals came on penalty corner sets, and another on a penalty stroke earned during a penalty corner try.

“They’re really tough (to mark) defensively,” Edward Little coach Greg Perkins said. “When they put nine people in there and we have four trying to play a corner on them, they have such good sticks that, when they get the ball it’s, ‘Where am I going to pass it to this time?'”

Messalonskee’s skill and speed kept the Eddies at bay, particularly through the midfield, most of the afternoon.

“We knew they were good before they came in,” Perkins said. “They’re for real. They have really good skills, really good passing. And they go to places really quickly, with really good passes.”

“Hands down this is one of our most all-around athletic teams,” McLaughlin said. “That goes deep into the bench as to how athletic and physically fit these girls are. It’s nice to take advantage of it some.”

Emily Hogan led the offensive charge for Messalonskee with three goals, a bit out of character for the captain who’s used to setting things up for her teammates.

“She does a great job,” McLaughlin said. “This year she’s been distributing more than ever, and she had a great game today.”

The eight goals for Messalonskee were the first given up by EL keeper Karli Stubbs, who had pitched five shutouts to open the season.

“That first half we definitely had to strategize to get around her,” McLaughlin said. “She’s a great goalkeeper. She keeps a wide stance, and comes out far, and really pressures the ball. We had to strategize around that for sure.”

“(Stubbs) is having a phenomenal year,” Perkins said. “This is one we knew that this was going to be a tough one. We have to shake it off and move on.”

As in their previous game against Oxford Hills, the Eagles started the first half slowly against a fully charged EL (5-1) squad. The Eddies had the majority of the chances in the opening seven minutes of play, earned their one penalty corner and one shot on cage and kept the ball in the offensive half of the field.

But Messalonskee, on its first penalty corner of the game, struck first, when Autumn Littlefield drove the ball into the back of the cage from the right side.

The game appeared destined for a 1-0 halftime score when an EL defender stepped int front of a Messalonskee shot behind Stubbs and prevented a sure goal. Hogan took the ensuing penalty stroke and lofted the ball into the upper right corner for a 2-0 lead.

After the half, the Eagles ran away.

“Halftime has been good for us,” McLaughlin said. “We did a better job of spreading out in the second half, and our spacing was better.”

Better spacing and a burst of energy set the eddies back on their heels. Haley Lowell made it 3-0 Eagles just 1:18 into the half on a penalty corner, and Hogan added her second 1:04 later on another corner try. She made it three on the afternoon with 21:25 to play at the left post on a feed across from Riley Field.

“We just keep trying to learn,” Perkins said. “I thought our freshmen did well today. They were playing really well. We just couldn’t stay with them.”

Saige Knight, Field and Lowell capped the scoring for Messalonskee.

Stubbs finished with 18 saves and defenders behind her added four defensive saves on the 30 Messalonskee shots. Eagles keeper Hannah Pinney stopped all three shots that went her way for the shutout.

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