WINDHAM—The Lady Eagles battered the visiting Lady Bulldogs through the first half on Saturday morning, June 8, building to a 9-2 advantage at the break. Belle Skvorak jammed home five goals for Windham in the stretch, spearheading a 10-5 semifinals triumph.

“These guys are so well-focused and they adapt so well to whatever the situation is,” Eagles head coach Matt Perkins said of his girls. “They’re a dream to coach; they understand the game very well. Their lacrosse IQ is the best I’ve seen.”

Portland controlled to begin, but Alanna Joyce soon turned a steal at midfield and grabbed possession for Windham. Skvorak then coaxed a free position on shooting space, but Bulldogs netminder Samira Doiron proved up to the challenge.

No, not until more than five minutes had elapsed would the Eagles get on the board. When that happened, it was – yup – Skvorak, converting on another free position opportunity. A minute and a half later, Skvorak made it 2-0 when she cut through the Portland defense, reeled in an Emma Yale pass and fired.

“We were all working together,” Skvorak said, asked what went right offensively for Windham in the beginning of the game. “It wasn’t just one person holding the ball – we were all passing.”

Yale bumped Windham’s lead to 3-0 a few minutes after that: Joyce squeeze the Bulldogs for a free position chance, but didn’t have the shot herself and peeled away from the charge, opting instead to find Yale on the cut.

Skvorak made it 4-0 on another shooting space infraction; Carissa O’Connell then made it 5-0 and Yale 6-0 (on a Riley Beem feed). The Bulldogs settled into an admirable, effective defensive posture after that, and eventually zipped to the other end of the field to ply their attack for a bit. But Windham keeper Kaitlyn Gedicks deftly interrupted Portland’s offensive maneuvering – she snatched the ball from them – and cleared. Momentarily, Skvorak notched her fourth, for 7-0, on a bounce shot inside.

Gedicks sounded off on the Windham defense. “They all work harder than anyone else,” she said. “They work so hard. I don’t really run the thing, they just mesh so well and get the job done all the time. Morgan (Colangelo), she’s always working so hard; Avery (Rolfe) and Clara (Ward) down at post, they absolutely know what they’re doing and they get the flow of the game. It’s so cool to see.”

Portland finally got on the board with 1:19 left to go. Elena Clifford did the honors, besting Gedicks at the right side with a shot over the top to the opposite post. Gedicks contorted herself mightily in pursuit of the ball, but it was placed just perfectly. 7-1.

25 seconds later, Chloe Kilbride contributed the Bulldogs’ second of the day. Was the team beginning to find its mojo? Not if Skvorak had anything to say about it: Skvorak juked in from the top left with 16.4 seconds on the clock to cap her epic half with the 8-2 tally. 11 seconds after that, Brooke Spaulding assisted Yale on 9-2. The Eagles had stamped out Portland’s fire.

“They really knew to shoot low and go for those bounce shots that would go weird – since it is grass and the ground’s uneven and you have no idea where it’s going,” Gedicks said, asked what sort of tough looks Portland gave her. “That’s definitely where the capitalized.”

Comfortably in control of the action, Windham played a more contemplative downhill 25 minutes. Joyce added the team’s only other goal, and while Portland added three during the same period – that’s two by Hazel Praught and one by Annika More – the Eagles had simply overmatched them.

“I don’t think they slowed us down,” Perkins said, asked about his girls’ lighter offensive output in the second half. “I think we pulled it out a lot and tried to be smarter with the ball…[We’d given] Portland some opportunities, and they’re a great team.”

Perkins applauded Gedicks. “She was awesome; she was phenomenal,” he said. “We knew right along she’d be a great goalie, and this year she’s got her chance, and she’s taken full advantage of it. She’s one of the best, I think, in the State.”

No. 2 Windham (Falmouth earned the top-seed) advances on the win to 12-1 this spring. The Lady Eagles travel to the Yachtswomen, also 12-1, on Wednesday, June 12 for the A North Regional Final. When the teams met in the same game last year, Falmouth prevailed; however, when they collided earlier this season, Windham took the W.

“Definitely,” Gedicks said, asked if she was excited about getting another shot at Falmouth. “It’ll be a lot of fun, because both teams are just so high-level. Just to see the game and the play. Those are the best games to be in.”

“We have to treat them as if they’re any other team,” Skvorak said of the Yachtswomen. “We can’t focus on the win last game against them. We have to treat it as a clean slate; anything can happen.”

Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

Windham goalie Kaitlyn Gedicks tracks an incoming Portlander.

Riley Beem zips upfield, in control for the Eagles.

Eagle Alanna Joyce skirts a Portland opponent.

Emma Yale played a cucial role in Windham’s victory.

Morgan Colangelo surveys her pass options.

Belle Skvorak logged five goals in the Eagles’ victory.

Sidney McCusker possesses for the Lady Eagles in their triumph over Portland.

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