WATERBORO — As the quarterback behind the net for the Massabesic girls lacrosse team, Karlie Pike has a simple system for knowing the exact right time to make a centering pass out front.

“We always look for the pony tail,” Pike said, referring to the back of a defenders’ head. “When you see it, you go, because they’re not looking.”

With the clock running down at the end of the third overtime period of Wednesday night’s tense Western Class A girls lacrosse regional final against Thornton Academy, Pike saw that pony tail. So she went.

And now, Massabesic is headed back to the Class A state championship game.

In possession behind the Golden Trojans’ goal, Pike found Alexis Foglio cutting toward the net and hit her with a pinpoint pass that Foglio deposited into the back of the net with 9.4 seconds left in the third extra period, lifting the top-seeded Mustangs to a 6-5 victory over the second-seeded Golden Trojans in front of a huge crowd at Massabesic High School.

Massabesic (14-1) will play Eastern A champion Cheverus in a rematch of last year’s state title game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“It was real nerve-wracking,” Pike said of the game winner. “I saw Lexi over the top, and I just passed it and hoped she did her thing.”

The pair improvised the winning goal on the fly. After the Mustangs’ original set play in the third overtime fizzled out, Bowen called a timeout with 1:08 to play and, according to Foglio, told his team to “do what we do, just go play.”

The ball was worked around to Pike behind the net, and seeing the clock running down, she threaded a pass through traffic to an onrushing Foglio on the right, who took three steps on the run before placing a hard shot just inside the post and past Thornton (11-4) goalie Allie Spinney.

“Karlie sees everything from behind the net,” Foglio said. “We don’t have any set plays that work for us all the time. I don’t think we were thinking anything in particular. We just played.”

“She’s pretty elusive when she has the ball,” Bowen said of Foglio. “She’s got good feet, she’s got good movement, and what we really like about her is she always finds an open spot in the net. So we felt pretty good that she had it in those last seconds.”

Foglio’s goal ended 58 minutes and 50.6 seconds of high-quality, fast-paced lacrosse.

Down 2-1 at halftime, Massabesic stormed back with the first four goals of the second half, only to see the lead disappear in the space of 36 seconds as a goal from Katie McCrum and two more from Carly McKenna ended a 31:38 Trojans’ scoring drought with three minutes to play and forced the game into overtime.

“The girls battled,” Thornton coach Craig Agreste said. “We were down 5-2 with four minutes and scored three goals. I thought we were in pretty good shape going into (overtime) with some momentum.”

“What a shift in momentum that was,” Bowen said. “It was challenging, but we’ve been on both sides of that this season.”

Massabesic wrestled some of that momentum back as Jackie Guillemette corralled the opening faceoff of the first three-minute overtime. The Mustangs came within inches of taking the lead with 1:20 left, but Rayne Whitten’s shot ringed off the left goalpost, and Spinney came up with a save seconds later to keep the game level.

Thornton then won the second overtime faceoff and stalled, hoping to run the clock down for the last shot. But Mustangs defender Jolena Lampron picked off a pass with 20 seconds to play and raced down to the other end, only for the ball to fall out of her stick at just the last moment as she wound up to take a desperation shot on goal.

“At 6-5, it’s a defensive game,” said Agreste, whose team turned the ball over 17 times ”“ one more than Massabesic. “They played good defense, and we did, too, they just played it for a little bit longer.”

Thornton held up its part of the bargain for nearly the entire three minutes of the third overtime as the game moved into sudden victory. Foglio controlled the opening faceoff, and the Mustangs also ran the clock down probing for a shot.

After Bowen called his timeout with 1:08 to play, Massabesic’s offense broke down, and the game looked to be headed for yet another extra period, only for Pike to spot the pony tail, and Foglio to send the Mustangs into jubilation seconds later.

“You hate to see it end so suddenly, but we knew that’s what it was,” Agreste said. “They won that last round, but it’s not one play: There’s a lot of plays throughout the game, and you’ll look back and say, ”˜What if, what if, what if.’ But it hurts, because you’ll look back and see what happened at the end.”

Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected]

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