THE MT. ARARAT JUNIOR EAGLES celebrate with the championship trophy in their locker room in Falmouth after downing Oyster River of New Hampshire, 3-2, in the Petterson Division championship of the Southern Maine Middle School Hockey League recently. The first-year club went 7-5 during the regular season, but rolled through the playoffs to record the program’s first title.

THE MT. ARARAT JUNIOR EAGLES celebrate with the championship trophy in their locker room in Falmouth after downing Oyster River of New Hampshire, 3-2, in the Petterson Division championship of the Southern Maine Middle School Hockey League recently. The first-year club went 7-5 during the regular season, but rolled through the playoffs to record the program’s first title.

FALMOUTH — Getting a girls middle school hockey team together in the School Administration District 75 area has been a challenge over the past years.

But, this season, a group of young ladies strapped on their helmets and hit the ice running, many putting on skates for the first time while competing in the Southern Maine Middle School Hockey League’s Petterson Division.

In what began as a way to get some experience on the ice, the Mt. Ararat team stunningly captured the championship, downing Oyster River, 3-2, in the title game.

These Junior Eagle players, ranging in grades 5-8, came together at the right time. After a fund raiser paid for ice time, including practices along with finding a place to call their home, the Junior Eagles used 12 players and a solid goaltender to find their way through the challenging all-girls league.

Playing in a seven-team division, Mt. Ararat went 7- 5, good for fourth place during the regular season.

Against York in the quarterfinals, the Junior Eagles moved on, setting up a matchup against “Battle of the Bridge” rival Brunswick in the semifinals. Facing a Huskies team consisting a mix of Brunswick and SAD- 75 players with more on-ice experience overall, Mt. Ararat pulled off the win.

Next up was the Petterson Division championship game against two-time defending champs, Oyster River of New Hampshire. Held at the Falmouth Family Ice Center, the game was played at a fast, end-to-end pace.

After a scoreless first period, Oyster River claimed a 1- 0 lead on a Natalie Simonds goal, assisted by Natalie Lessard. Just over two minutes later, the lead doubled as Anna Mazza put home an unassisted goal.

What appeared to be a two-goal deficit after two periods quickly changed. Caroline Gepfert picked up the puck and sent a pass to Maddie Young. Ema Hawkes awaited a pass and received it before slipping a shot past the Oyster River goaltender to give the Junior Eagles some much-needed momentum.

Seconds later, Gepfert sent the Mt. Ararat fans into a frenzy when she scored to tie the game at two apiece as the game headed into the final period of action.

The tense third period featured end-to-end play again, with neither team able to find the go-ahead goal. That is until Gepfert made the Junior Eagles’ championship dreams a reality with the game-winning goal with 8.9 seconds remaining in regulation.

In all, the team went from a group of athletes who had trouble standing up on the ice at first to Petterson Division champions this season. Quite an accomplishment!