The hunch paid off big for the fourth-seeded Red Eddies. Berube scored the game-winner midway through the second half and EL advanced in the Class A North soccer playoffs with a 3-1 quarterfinal win over No. 5 Lewiston on Wednesday.

It is the third year in a row the Eddies have knocked their rivals out of the playoffs. Edward Little (9-3-3) will face top-seeded and unbeaten Bangor in the semifinals on Saturday. Lewiston concludes its season 6-6-3.

Berube, who missed the past five games with a sprained ankle, beat a Lewiston defender to a pass from Piper Norcross and broke away for a shot to the right of Devils goalie Taylor Chamberlain to break a 1-1 tie with 20:47 remaining.

“It was my first game back, so (Latuscha) was saying that he wanted me to put it away,” Berube said. “When Piper had the ball, I called for it. She passed it to me and I cut and saw the net and just shot it on the near side.”

“I haven’t done it all year, but I decided to do something a little different and put her up at striker,” Latuscha said. “We’d been playing pretty well in the midfield without her, so that helped us mix things up a little bit and put her up there. I told her she was going to score and she came through. It was a great pass by Piper.”

Grace Fontaine put a bow on the win by heading in a corner kick with 1:45 to go. 

“I guess we wouldn’t want it any other way than to have Lewiston and EL face each other in the playoffs, but part of me is, like, gee, it would be nice to play someone else,” Lewiston coach Brant Remington said with a smile. “I know they would like to play someone else, too. But it’s always good for the community when the two schools can face off like this.”

Mariah Vaillancourt also scored for the Eddies, while Kajha Gagnon scored the lone Devils’ goal on a penalty kick.

Edward Little won the first of two regular-season meetings with Lewiston, 3-1. But the last time the two teams met in Auburn, they battled to a scoreless draw.

Vaillancourt broke the scoring drought just 8:57 into Wednesday’s game with a shot across her body that eluded Chamberlain as she dove to her right.

“Coach said to take shots from outside the 18, so I just saw my opportunity and luckily it went in,” Vaillancourt said.

Berube and Norcross nearly hooked up on a second goal in the 28th minute with a dropback pass that left Berube an opening for a shot, but she boomed it over the crossbar. Moments later, Berube, perhaps still working out the rust from her layoff, missed another chance wide left.

A pushing foul in the box gave Gagnon the chance to even the score. The junior’s blast beat EL junior goalie Taylor Depot to her right to make it 1-1 with 11:52 left in the first half.

“That was the only penalty kick we had awarded to us all season,” Remington said. “Our weakness this year is we just haven’t been putting it in the back of the net. At least we got lucky there. We finally got one given to us.”

“That deflated us a little bit,” Latuscha said. “We talked at halftime how it’s about how you handle adversity in life and in soccer. We were dealt a blow there, just deal with it mentally.”

Chamberlain (six saves) and Depot (four saves) both made outstanding leaping saves to preserve the tie early in the second half.

The Blue Devils graduate six seniors, including top defender Morgan Eliasen and some experience in the midfield. But Remington is delighted with the foundation they helped set for the program moving forward.

“I think the girls are going to walk away proud of not only how they played today but the whole season,” Remington said. “Finishing fifth and getting as many Heal points as they did this year — it’s the most we’ve had since I’ve been here and three years and really the most since maybe the Laura Martel days (11 years ago).”

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