WINDHAM—The Lady Eagles welcomed the Lady Blue Devils in the tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday, June 6, and – thanks in part to a Belle Skvorak hat trick – emerged victorious, 7-6.
“Six years in a row,” Windham head coach Matt Perkins said, asked about meeting Lewiston in the playoffs. He chuckled: “It’s the only time we play each other. It’s pretty funny.”
“I did,” Perkins said, asked if he knew anything about the Devils in advance. “I knew their goalie was very good. I don’t know how many stops she had, but she had some impressive saves. We were hitting different angles, and she was keeping them in it.”
“Being in the schedule we had this year, we played so many tough, tough teams,” Perkins said, asked what allowed his girls to pull out a victory. “That really helps us. We get in these tight situations, and we have to be able to take care of the ball – and we do.”
Beyond Skvorak’s hat trick in the triumph, Alanna Joyce added two (and an assist), while Emma Yale added one and Carissa O’Connell one as well. Lewiston, though, kept hot on Windham’s heels throughout the entire matchup.
“They did a really good job, especially in the second half, getting the ball up the field in transition,” Perkins said of Lewiston. “We were trying to trap, put pressure on, but they did a great job getting it out.”
Among Lewiston’s other strengths was their defense. At times they ferociously shut down Windham’s most dangerous scorers – Skvorak, for example. “They did,” Perkins said. “And that’s okay. We were going through our cycle.”
The Eagles may not have known much about Lewiston (besides that their goalie is top-notch) heading into the bout, but they learned quickly. “Very aggressive; they liked to yell in your face,” Joyce said with a laugh. “I didn’t think their passing was as good as it probably could’ve been, maybe.”
“I thought that she took up the goal really well,” Joyce said of the Devils’ keeper. “I have a tendency to throw right into her stick; she did a good job.”
Perhaps the single tensest moment of the contest came in the waning 10 seconds, when Windham had possession in Lewiston territory – but couldn’t keep it. The Eagles turned the ball over to the Devils, who charged with it all the way upfield.
Erin Lachance carried inward – mere moments remained – and somehow split the Windham defense, split them sufficiently to pull the trigger on a shot, a last, desperate attempt to force overtime. Fortunately, Eagles keeper Grace Sawyer blocked the ball and gave her girls the W.
“I was praying that I didn’t have a heart attack,” Sawyer said of the Devils’ waning-seconds drive. “I was terrified; I was praying they weren’t going to shoot – and then they did. I guess it was just reflex.”
The shot came in low; Sawyer swept downward with her stick to block it expertly. “I saw the ball, and I was like, ‘Thank the Heavens,’” she said.
Sawyer faced quite a few solid Lewiston shots, as it turns out. “I saw a lot of shots,” she said; “thankfully, my team was there to help me. I was happiest about my defense – they kept it from being a lot more shots. It was a good day.”
Perkins applauded a couple of his girls. “I thought Alanna’s defense in the second half was great. The other middies’ defense really came along – Riley Beem, Carissa O’Connell and Bell Skvorak. The middies got back and clamped down.”
Very rarely does a team play a perfect game, of course. Perkins noted as much: “We turned it over three times, and our lacrosse IQ a few times wasn’t super. We threw it across the middle, we’re up by two goals; it’s just not something you need to do.”
“We had a lot of drops in the second half that we haven’t had lately,” Perkins added. “We were sloppy. We’ve got to clean that up by Saturday.”
“Just our teamwork, and our passing – we worked together really good tonight,” Joyce said, asked what allowed her girls to prevail. “We won a lot of the draws; we did everything right, I think.”
Put on the spot – asked about her own performance – Joyce said, “I think I did pretty good. I definitely had one of my better games tonight. And the way our new offense has been, it’s easy to find holes in the other teams’ defense.”
For her part, Sawyer remarked on the Eagles’ defense: “We actually have a new defense this year,” she said. “We put it into place about halfway through and I really love it. Everybody has each other’s back. So, one person on the ball, and everyone else is watching that person’s back. That person has full comfort knowing they can pressure the ball. If she gets beat, she knows we have girls behind her that can take care of business.”
Two days later – the aforementioned Saturday – Windham traveled to Falmouth for the semis. Despite hanging with the Yachtswomen for a substantial chunk of the first half, however, the Lady Eagles couldn’t keep pace with their hosts and ultimately fell 10-5. They thus conclude their season at 8-6.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Riley Beem hounds a Falmouth opponent.
Carissa O’Connell defends for the Eagles vs. Falmouth.
Belle Skvorak scores game-tying goal vs. Falmouth, 4-4.
Ashley Cummings fires forward.
Maddie Beem tracks a Lewiston opponent.
Eagle Lauren Black drives forward.
Carissa O’Connell notched one goal in the low-scoring Windham win.
Emma Yale carries on the attack for the Eagles.
Alanna Joyce picked up two goals and an assist for the Lady Eagles in their win over Lewiston.
Belle Skvorak skirts a Lewiston opponent.
Maddie Beem flips a pass ahead.