SACO — Put in a quick 3-0 hole by sixth-seeded South Portland High, the Thornton Academy girls’ lacrosse team just needed a little faith in Wednesday’s Western A quarterfinal.

The third-seeded Golden Trojans (10-3) showed the faith in their ball-control offense and the aptly named Faith Sinclair scored three second-half goals, including the winner in a 9-6 victory.

The first half ended with South Portland (8-5) leading 3-1 thanks 0in part to six sterling saves from goalkeeper Lily SanGiovanni and six more misfired shots – several from Sinclair.

“We, including myself, get down on ourselves if we’re down and sometimes it takes a reality check from Coach (Craig Agreste) or one of the captains or even one of the underclassmen to realize, ‘It’s playoffs now,'” Sinclair said. “We need to keep our head in the game and keep the faith, as you may say, to stay positive.”

Sinclair scored her first quickly with an assist from Paige LeBlanc.

South Portland answered in 9 seconds as Maddie Hasson controlled a bouncing ball off the draw and fed a speeding Mary Cronin.

But Thornton scored three straight – Julianna Grondin, Sinclair and senior captain Lauren Wells – to take its first lead with 14:45 left in the game.

“After they went up 3-0 I felt like we kind of controlled the rest of the (first) half so I felt better,” Agreste said. “SanGiovanni is one of the best in the league and we wanted to make her work. We started to move her more.”

Sinclair said Thornton’s improved offensive efficiency came in part because the offensive players started getting past South Portland’s tough defenders and stopped playing, “what Coach called hero ball. In the first half we were just trying to take everything one-and-one which isn’t going to work against most good teams.”

The game went back-and-forth, tied at 5-5 and 6-6 as Hasson and Abby Letourneau (2 goals) scored goals around a Thornton tally from freshman Hannah McAlary.

“They responded when they needed to,” South Portland Coach Leslie Dyer said. “They got that momentum and we picked it up in the end when we needed to which is something I’m very proud of.”

Sinclair put Thornton ahead to stay on a slick left-handed shot as she curled around the back of the crease with 6:15 to play.

Thornton was able to regain possession and went into a delay tactic. Recognizing that it was better to risk a goal and save time on the clock, SanGiovanni daringly went to intercept a long pass to McAlary behind the goal.

McAlary barely beat SanGiovanni to the ball and was able to curl in front to score a key goal with 3:47 left.

Dyer said she fully supported SanGiovanni’s effort.

“When we found out we were playing TA we know that’s what they do, they’re a stalling team,” Dyer said. “We came in with the mentality, if it came down to that, whether we lose by one, two or three (goals) you’re still losing.”

South Portland did win the ensuing draw, but could not get the big reward as TA keeper Allie Spinney came up with her only save of the game against Kayla Brown with 2:40 to play.

Thornton’s Amanda Cyr finished the scoring on a free-position goal with 15.3 seconds left.