Windham’s Ciera Berthiaume notched a pair of goals against visiting TA Monday night – a hugely important pair that included both the jumpstarter her team needed after falling behind 2-0, as well as the overtime game-winner that extended their season.

“[Thornton] played a really great defensive game,” said Windham head coach Deb Lebel. “It’s hard to shoot, hard to score, when they’re playing good defense like that. I give them all the credit in the world. It was good that we finally did come alive.”

Two more days and one step closer to the ultimate prize, a moment the more superstitious Eagles and their fans may not want to mention aloud for fear of jinxing it: a second consecutive State Championship. Windham remains undefeated this year, jumping to 15-0-1, after finishing 17-0-1 in 2013.

“We just came from two behind against Portland, last game, which was a little unexpected,” Lebel said, when asked how often her towering team has faced a deficit this year. “So we have proven we can do it. And we had to do it one other time this year, against Noble – we got behind twice in that game.”

Despite trailing, and having to claw back, the Eagles in fact seemed to control for much of the game. They applied most of the pressure, severely limiting Thornton’s time on the attack. Through the first hour, though, the TA defense stood tall, stood strong, and netminder Alexis Nason proved impenetrable.

Instead of giving up goals, the Trojans managed to jump out front on the speed and power of Tori Daigle. Daigle broke the early 0-0 deadlock in the 27th minute, catching a pass forward from teammate Cassidy Cochrane then charging ahead, up the right sideline and past a lone Windham defender to earn an off-angle one-on-one with keeper Elizabeth Mycock, who lost the duel. 1-0, TA.

Daigle hashed another four minutes into the second half, after fellow Trojan Jessica Haskell carried the ball up the left sideline and shunted it toward the center, where Daigle picked it up and powered it past Mycock for a 2-0 lead – generally considered substantial in soccer, but also dangerous, as it can render a team complacent.

It would be hard to say, though, that Thornton got overconfident; it would be much easier to say the Eagles simply came to life. Yes, they’d controlled for much of the game, but they’d managed to do so without looking fiery – without racing to every ball, without throwing their bodies into every play, without fighting to penetrate for many close shots.

Down by two, though, and with time dwindling toward the end of their season, Windham undammed the torrent: pick a girl, any girl, they all appeared invigorated. Berthiaume pounced and pounced some more, Soucy danced between defenders, Maggie Symonds scorched the left flank.

Finally, with just 13:25 remaining, Berthiaume picked up a pass from Cassie Symonds, shuttled it forward, watched – and dodged – as Nason emerged from the Trojans net to meet her, and tapped it easily in to halve the Thornton advantage, 2-1.

“I felt like it would come,” Lebel said. “I felt like we had out-shot them. Tori’s super-fast; those were great goals she had – there’s no taking that away from her. I just felt like we had more shots and more opportunities. So I knew it was going to fall; it was just a matter of when, and I was just hoping we wouldn’t run out of time.”

“As time goes down, we know we need to get one soon,” Berthiaume said. “As soon as possible. We keep going as hard as we can.”

Their cobwebs dusted off, the Eagles needed just four and a half more minutes to tie things up, Holly Spencer feeding the ball to Soucy, who belted it home for 2-2. From there, the tussle knotted up again, and eventually headed into overtime.

It took Berthiaume a skosh under six OT minutes to close the books on the game. Grabbing a ball punched out her way, she rebounded it back on Nason – back past Nason, to be precise, for the 3-2, sudden-death killshot.

Berthiaume described the moment: “I let it rip, and it hit off [Nason’s] hands. And I knew there was only like five minutes left, so I just ran it; it was all or nothing.”

“We just don’t hang our heads,” she said of the Eagles’ effort to come back. “We just keep going, and we know that, if we stick together, we’re going to get it.”

Before the Eagles can reach States once more, though, before they can even play for the gold ball again, they’ll have to get through Scarborough. Casual soccer fans everywhere – those who might be contemplating attending just one game this season – would sure do well to settle on that bout, scheduled for Wednesday evening, Nov. 5 (after Current Publishing’s print deadline).

The contest, the A West Final, will be a rematch of last year: same teams, same field, same stakes. Well, maybe one thing will be different: if possible, both teams will probably want the W all the more now.

“We tied Scarborough, earlier in the season,” Lebel said, “so it’s going to be a battle.”

Jenna Soucy vies for a header with a back-to Trojan.Ciera Berthaiume, who had two goals – including the game-winner – Monday night slides her body between a Trojan and the ball.Cassie Symonds gets a leg up catch an incoming ball.

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