HAMPDEN, Maine — The Edward Little girls’ soccer team was hoping to at least have a puncher’s chance against the defending Class A state champions from Windham High School on Saturday.
The Red Eddies delivered a pretty good blow in the first half, and held the lead after 40 minutes.
While the early deficit may have surprised Windham, it certainly didn’t stagger the Eagles. Windham shrugged off the goal and blew the game open in the second half of a 5-1 win over EL in the Class A state championship game at Hampden Academy.
“I talked to my assistant coaches, I knew they’d probably come back,” EL coach Craig Latuscha said. “A team as deep as they are will eventually wear us down.”
Melissa Morton scored a natural hat trick (three straight goals) in a span of 8:21 in the second half while Ciera Berthiaume and Jenna Soucy added goals for Windham (17-0-1).
The Eagles outshot EL 24-7 overall, but struggled to finish in the first half. EL did a nice job defensively, clogging the middle and blocking shots and passes.
“We’ve been behind in every single playoff game,” Windham coach Deb Lebel said. “We told them, ‘You’re outshooting them. They’re going to fall. You have to keep shooting and spread it a little bit.’”
The Red Eddies put forth a solid defensive effort in the first half and ‘keeper Molly Murray made a handful of key saves, but the Eagles just proved too much.
“My team showed up,” Latuscha said. “We’ve got a lot of heart. We have a lot of athletes. We showed up to play in the first half. We had a 1-0 lead against a great team.”
Olivia Paione had the EL goal just 6:30 into the game. The ball came out of the left corner for her in front.
“Against a team like that, they’ve only allowed five goals (in the regular season),” Latuscha said. “To get one like that, right off the bat, I was really pumped. I was really excited.”
Windham wasn’t without chances in the first half, outshooting EL 9-2. Berthiaume beat a pair of defenders but put a shot wide. She also hit the crossbar on a shot from the corner. Cassie Symonds had a shot in front, but Murray made a diving save.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Morton said. “We were controlling the ball. We were getting it to each other. We just had to get it in.”
The goals came in rapid succession in the second half. Madison Mauro, Soucy and Berthiaume all had chances in the opening minutes, but the EL defense hung tough and Murray stopped more shots.
Then, at 6:15, Berthiaume took a pass from Maggie Symonds to break the ice.
“Once we got that first goal, it started to flow,” Morton said. “We got our confidence and then it just came.”
Morton got her first just 1:59 later. Following a corner, Edward Little’s defense cleared the net front, but Cassie Symonds fed it back to the middle for Morton.
EL didn’t get its first shot of the second half until Piper Norcross had a try with 24:40 left.
Morton netted her second goal shortly thereafter. Berthiaume put a shot in front that Murray saved. Morton put in the rebound for the 3-1 lead. Morton scored again to complete the hat trick.
“I couldn’t have done that without the help of my teammates,” Morton said. “They set me up perfectly. We work so well and have such great chemistry. It’s just easy to play well because of the team that we have.”
Soucy completed the scoring with 14:11 left on a direct kick.
“They girls played hard,” Latuscha said. “We had a great season. To go as far as we did after losing what we did last year, I’m very happy.”