Monmouth Academy goalie Destiny Clough reacts after the Mustangs lost 2-1 in double overtime to the Madison Bulldogs in Monmouth on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

MONMOUTH — The tension mounted on the Monmouth Academy sideline as Madison goalie Lauren Hay and the Bulldogs defense thwarted chance after chance for the Mustangs in the heart of Wednesday’s Class C South regional final.

The sense that the Mustangs had missed an opportunity to pull away from a 1-1 tie heightened as the Bulldogs shook off roughly an hour of Monmouth dominance and started tilting the field.

Second-seeded Madison seized momentum in the late stages of regulation, maintained it through the balance and the first overtime, then got the golden goal from senior midfielder Jillian Holden with 12:06 left in the second 15-minute overtime sessions to upset top-seeded Monmouth, 2-1, at Chick Field.

It is the first regional championship in Madison’s history. The Bulldogs will face North champion Houlton in the state championship on Saturday at Deering High School.

Holden broke down the right wing after a Monmouth turnover, beating a pair of defenders to the ball and firing on net. Monmouth goalie Destiny Clough got a hand on it but couldn’t stop it on its path to the back of the net.

“Somebody gave me a good little breakaway pass and I just went through and my shot was just hard enough to go through her legs,” Holden said. “I was looking to just get it in there. Anything works.”

Monmouth outshot Madison, 22-15, but controlled play for the majority of the last 30 minutes of the first half and the first 30 minutes of the second half. Madison sensed it had survived the best the Mustangs (15-2-0) had to offer and quickly put them back on their heels in the final eight minutes of regulation.

“There was no amount of conditioning we could have done to get them ready,” Madison co-coach Erin Wood said. “They had to find that other gear somewhere else.”

The Bulldogs (16-1-0) began the game in a defensive mode even before Holden’s first goal gave them the lead just 53 seconds into the game. 

“What we asked them to do was to play good defense the whole game and to push forward where they could and try to work the wings,” Madison co-coach Mike Walsh said. “

 Any Madison attempt to work the middle of the field was almost immediately negated by Monmouth senior defender Abbey Allen.

“She’s very good at clearing the ball,” Holden said. “So when we were not getting our crosses to the outside, it’s very easy for her to pop it right back into the middle. And that was very hard for us because that’s not the style of game we play.”

A clear by Allen helped set up the Mustangs’ tying goal, which came from freshman Alicen Burnham at 8:09 of the first half.

Monmouth, which handed Madison its only loss this season, kept the pressure on goalie Lauren Hay (15 saves), and the senior was up to the task. The high point came late in the first half when she stopped striker Tia Day from virtually point-blank range, then, about two minutes later, deflected a shot and then dove to stop Emily Grandahl’s follow.

“When you get opportunities and you don’t finish off, it’s always a thing that haunts you,” Monmouth coach Gary Trafton said. “(After the first goal), we came back strong and played well that first half. We had opportunities.”

“Some of the teams that we play during the regular season don’t really challenge us as much as a team like this,” Hay said. “In a game like this, it’s really important that we get up and get the intensity and it helps me get more into the game.”

Hay kept Monmouth’s frustration building in the second half, diving to beat Audrey Fletcher to Day’s pass in front of the goal. Minutes later, she deflected a Fletcher shot, then was in perfect position when Day tried to quickly boot home the rebound with the back of her heel.

“She did an amazing job,” Wood said. “This game and last game (against Traip, which Madison won 1-0 on penalty kicks), if she hadn’t performed the way she had, there’s no way we would have pulled it off.”

“The girls gave it everything they’ve got and I’m super-proud of them,” said Trafton, whose team was looking for its first Class C regional title and first since it won Class D in 2000. “It’s just, in the game of soccer I’ve seen teams take 40 shots and the other team takes one shot and score one goal and the game’s over. We had opportunities and we didn’t cash in. You’ve got to cash those in to put more pressure on them.”

Anna Lewis, left, of Monmouth Academy and Lauria LeBlanc of Madison contend for the ball in Monmouth on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Tia Day of Monmouth gets to the ball first during Wednesday’s match up against Madison. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Madison goalie Lauren Hay and her Bulldog teammates celebrate their Class C South championship after beating Monmouth Academy 2-1 in double overtime in Monmouth on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Anna Lewis, left, and Emma Johnson comfort Monmouth Academy goalie Destiny Clough as the Madison Bulldogs celebrate their 2-1 victory in double overtime in Monmouth on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Alicen Burnham of Monmouth Academy dribbles the ball up the field against Madison on Wednesday.  (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Alicen Burnham, center right,of Monmouth Academy and Annie Worthen of Madison contend for the ball along the sideline in Monmouth on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Audrey Fletcher of Monmouth Academy dribbles the ball between Madison defenders in Monmouth on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

The Madison Bulldogs celebrate after their double overtime shot got past Monmouth goalie Destiny Clough in Monmouth on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Audrey Fletcher, right, of Monmouth Academy celebrates with Alicen Burnham after Burnham’s first half goal tied the game up 1-1. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Monmouth Academy fans stand a applaud as the Mustangs acknowledge the crowd following their double overtime loss to Madison on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

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