WINDHAM — Grace Sawyer stood in front of the net, clutching her goalkeeper’s stick with its wide basket and fervently hoping to hear the final horn.

“I was just praying that they weren’t going to shoot it,” said Sawyer, and while that might not be the best mindset for a player whose job is to block shots, it worked for Sawyer on Wednesday. She smothered a desperation buzzer-beater from Lewiston junior Erin Lachance to preserve a 7-6 win in a Class A North quarterfinal for Windham.

The fourth-seeded Eagles (8-5) advance to the regional semifinals Saturday afternoon at No. 1 Falmouth (10-2). No. 5 Lewiston (7-6) saw its season end at the hands of Windham for the second year in a row.

Last spring, the margin was five goals in a regional semifinal. On Wednesday, Windham never trailed, but Sawyer twice was forced to make saves on potential game-tying shots – the first with seven minutes remaining and the Eagles up 6-5 – and then with a second left and Lewiston threatening to notch its second goal in the final 32 seconds.

Windham won the ensuing faceoff with help from an offsides infraction, but Lewiston forced a turnover with 12 seconds left and raced downfield toward Sawyer and the rapidly expiring game clock.

“I glanced up (at the clock), and then with the help of my teammates yelling “Shoot!” I just let it off,” Lachance said, “praying that it would go in, but …”

The ball skidded off grass made slick by rain that fell throughout the first half.

“I was hoping for a little bounce,” Lachance said, “but the goalie made a nice save.”

It was one of four saves for Sawyer, who was engulfed by her teammates.

“It was the best feeling in the world,” Sawyer said. “I’m so happy.”

The Eagles held a 17-10 advantage in shots but were continually thwarted by Lewiston goalie CeCe Racine, who finished with 10 saves. Windham also committed 19 turnovers.

“Their goalie was phenomenal,” Windham Coach Matt Perkins said. “She kept them in it, for sure. We had some point-blank shots that she made saves on that were pretty impressive.”

Bella Skvorak scored three goals for Windham, which opened a 4-1 halftime lead, only to see Lewiston roar back with two goals in the first seven minutes of the second half to make it 4-3.

Windham again extended the margin to three with goals by Skvorak and Alanna Joyce, before Lewiston’s Christine Chasse twice got loose in front of Sawyer to make it 6-5 with 7:23 left. The Blue Devils retained possession after the faceoff, but Sawyer thwarted a shot from the right side to preserve the one-goal advantage.

Skvorak passed up a free-position shot to work the ball around, then eventually found a lane in the middle to make it 7-5 with 4:19 left.

Joyce scored twice for Windham, and Carissa O’Connell and Emma Yale once each.

“It was so scary,” Skovrak said of the final moments, “but Grace, she absolutely saved our butts with that (save). If she wouldn’t have put her stick there in time, it would have gone right through her legs.”

When Windham played Falmouth in the regular season a month ago, Falmouth won 13-3.

“We got blown out of the park on that one,” Skovrak said. “We’re a completely different team now.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

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