WINDHAM — As the sun rose Monday morning, Deb Lebel, the girls’ soccer coach at Windham High, celebrated with her husband Mike the birth of their son Benjamin.
Wednesday night, she and her players had another celebration.
Top-ranked Windham won its first Western Class A championship, beating No. 3 Thornton Academy 4-3 on a goal by senior Emily Gorrivan with 10:47 left in the second overtime period. The Eagles had built a 2-0 first-half lead, then survived a stunning rally by the Trojans.
“I had to be a little persuasive with some of the nurses but they were great,’’ said Lebel. “And I promised that I would take it easy, which I have.’’
Windham (16-0-1) will play Bangor for the Class A state championship on Saturday at Bath’s McMann Field. The Eagles won back-to-back Class B state championships in 1993 and 1994.
Sophomore Ciera Berthiaume scored two goals for Windham, her last giving the Eagles a 3-1 lead with 35:15 left in the second half. But her headiest play may have come on the winning goal.
Windham forced a corner kick and Berthiaume hurried to set it up in the left corner. She sent a low kick toward the goal and Gorrivan raced through the defense, the ball deflecting off her body inside the left post. For a moment no one reacted, then the Eagles started leaping and hugging each other.
It was over, partly because Berthiaume rushed the play before Thornton could set up its defense.
“I wanted to get them off guard,’’ she said. “If we caught them on their heels, we would have been able to get it right off. Which we did.’’
It happened so fast that Gorrivan didn’t even know how she put the ball in.
“It was just an amazing ball from Ciera,’’ she said. “And I just hustled my hardest to get to the left side of the goal. And it just happened.
“I’m so excited about it. We’re all so excited. I can’t believe it happened.’’
Lebel was also somewhat surprised because, she said, “we don’t practice corners a ton. And this year we haven’t had a ton of luck scoring. So it was nice that we were finally able to finish one tonight, when it really counted.’’
For 14-2-1 Thornton, which advanced to the regional final with a double-overtime victory, the loss was disappointing but not disheartening.
“The character of my girls going down two goals in a championship game and coming back and coming back, and giving themselves an opportunity to win the game, is incredible,’’ said Coach Chris Kohl. “I’m so proud of them but feel so sad for them at the same time because they worked so hard.’’
Berthiaume and Jenna Soucy scored in the first half for Windham. The Trojans came out aggressively in the second half and got a goal from Tori Daigle just 1:04 in. Berthiaume made it 3-1 just over three minutes later but the Trojans got a goal from Haley DeGraca, set up beautifully by Amanda Arnold, less then three minutes later and it was 3-2.
Windham keeper Kate Kneeland, made some pivotal stops. But with 13:28 remaining, Megan Hurrell made it 3-3, scoring at the left post on another nice cross.
Thornton continued to press but could not get the go-ahead goal.
“We knew we had to stick together as a team and play together and play through it,’’ said Berthiaume. “And we did.’’
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: