WATERBORO — In the eyes of many, Westbrook High began the season as the favorite in Class A South field hockey, a team loaded with talent and experience.

Now the Blazes have a chance to prove those predictions right.

Avery Tucker tipped in a shot by Maddison LeBeau with 5:09 left in the second sudden-death overtime to lift sixth-seeded Westbrook to a 3-2 victory over No. 2 Massabesic in a Class A South semifinal Saturday.

It was a stunning ending to a marvelously played game and sent Westbrook to the regional final for the first time since 2008. Westbrook (12-4) will play fourth-seeded Biddeford on Tuesday at Thornton Academy, at a time yet to be determined.

Biddeford defeated Westbrook 4-3 in overtime in the regular season.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for us,” said Tucker, who assisted on Westbrook’s other two goals. “We worked extremely hard to get here.”

Massabesic (13-3), the defending regional champion, led 2-1 at halftime on two Emma Rutledge goals just 75 seconds apart late in the half.

But Westbrook, which led 1-0 on a Morgan LeBeau goal, controlled most of the second half – getting the tying goal from Maddison LeBeau with 20:54 remaining off a penalty corner blast – and had the best chances in overtime.

“We lost our momentum in the second half,” said Massabesic Coach Michele Martin-Moore. “I wish we didn’t have to have the halftime. But hats off to the Westbrook kids and coaches. That was quite a game.”

The Blue Blazes could have cracked after Rutledge’s second goal, on a reverse swipe during a scramble with 4:24 left in the first half. But Theresa Hendrix, Westbrook’s co-head coach along with Beth Murphy, called a timeout.

“We saw some heads low, some shoulders low,” said Hendrix. “So we talked to them and told them if they wanted to beat a team like Massabesic, that couldn’t be happening. They had to fight back, play their game. And they did that the rest of the game.”

Massabesic, which defeated a favored Westbrook team in the quarterfinals a year ago, had nine shots in the first half, but only four the rest of the way. Westbrook’s defense, led by goalie Kim Goddard, was superb.

“I knew coming in this was going to be the hardest game of my life,” said Goddard, who made three huge saves in the game’s first four minutes. “I knew I would have to push it and give it everything.”

Westbrook had a chance to win it in regulation, getting a penalty corner with less than 30 seconds remaining. But Massabesic’s Morgan Pike and Logan Champlin combined to clear the ball, forcing overtime.

Massabesic goalie Madyson Pomerleau came charging out of the net twice to stop rushes by Mary Keef in overtime. Again, Westbrook had a corner in the final seconds but could not score, forcing a second eight-minute overtime.

With just under six minutes remaining, the Blue Blazes were awarded a free hit after the ball hit the foot of a Massabesic player. As she stepped to the ball, LeBeau, who takes most of the free hits and quite often passes, recalled something Murphy had said to her.

“Coach had been telling me, ‘Take it in, take it in, be a little selfish, if you have the chance,'” said LeBeau. “I was like, ‘I’ve got to get this to Avery.'”

So she dribbled around a Massabesic defender and unleashed a hard shot from just inside the circle. Tucker stuck her stick out – “I knew all I could do was stick my stick out there and do my best,” said Tucker – and tipped the ball inside the left post.

“We played with our heart the whole time,” said Massabesic’s Rutledge. “Neither team deserved to lose. Both teams could have won. It was just their turn.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH