Windham netmaestro Riley Silvia deflects a shot over the crossbar. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

WINDHAM — Eagles Abbey Thornton and Julia McKenna hashed two apiece at home vs. South Portland on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 26. The girls’ contributions led Windham – after a slow start, no less – to a decisive 5-0 triumph in the playoffs bout.

“We all knew it was going to be a tough game,” Thornton, just a freshman, said. “We had to go and get it done with.”

Thornton struck first, besting South Portland keeper Maria Buck for 1-0 roughly nine minutes into the game.

“I just try to put my team in a position to win,” Thornton said. “To take the shot, and hopefully it [goes] in.”

“I [saw] space,” Thornton said of her view on the field. “My team moved out of the way for me and made a lane for me. I just dribbled it to the side and shot it.”

After Thornton’s initial blow, though, the Eagles’ offense slowed down for a long while – slowed to a halt. South Portland took the attacking reins as the half wound towards its conclusion. The Riots couldn’t score – Windham’s defense, including goalie Riley Silvia, stood stalwart all day – but they did crank up their pressure.

Needless to say, the Eagles adjusted their approach during the break. They returned to the field for the downhill half, then they caught fire: Windham attacked hard from the very start of the half, recording their first near-miss of the stretch – a shot just wide left – around 90 seconds in.

“We worked as a team more,” Thornton said of Windham’s changed approach for the second. “We passed and we spread out. We had a mindset that we wanted to go and get it and put them to rest.”

“Really good, unselfish play in the second half,” Windham Head Coach Deb Lebel said. “If we play as a team – and not worry about, ‘I want to score; how many goals am I getting?’ but ‘How can I set up my teammates? Can I get assists?’ – I think that’s going to carry us.”

Twenty-one seconds later, Thornton unwound into a successful penalty kick, putting her girls out front 2-0.

“We had a short corner, and I went to,” Thornton said, “and I was going to pass to Julia, but a girl went towards her so I took it myself – and then I got fouled.”

“We practice and practice,” Thornton said of PKs. “I tried to be calm about it, and have a good mindset, that I could do it.”

McKenna logged a close call – a shot barely wide right – with roughly 32:23 to play; she wouldn’t get on the board for another five and a half minutes, however. She struck again with just under nine minutes remaining. Her notches made it 3-0 and 4-0, respectively.

Eventually – around 5:10 – Emma Millett capped the Eagles’ scoring around.

Lebel applauded a number of her girls, including Thornton.

“So many kids have stepped up and played in different spots,” she said. “Abbey’s really solid in the set. She’s filled a hole; she’s really strengthened our team. The two freshmen have really shored up our midfield – that’s [Thornton and] Liz Talbot.”

“Riley Beem,” Lebel continued. “She’s played the entire season as a midfielder, but we had a torn ACL from Julia Kaplan against Bonny Eagle, so Riley’s been moved to defense. Never played defense, and she’s crushing it back there.”

The Eagles actually opened the regular season against South Portland, way back on Sept. 10. Windham also won that game, to the tune of 3-0.

Saturday’s victory bumped Windham to 10-3-2 on the autumn, and ushered them through the tournament prelims to Tuesday night, Oct. 29’s quarterfinals. There, the No. 5 Eagles faced off at Massabesic with No. 4 Gorham. The Rams emerged triumphant from the bout, 2-1.

Kayla Flanders charges upfield for the Eagles. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Ashley Clark eyes an airborne ball as it zips toward center. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Riley Beem curls toward the action. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Emma MIllett takes a touch for the Eagles. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Rylee Pepin unwinds into a kick. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Abbey Thornton tallied twice for Windham in the outing. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Sarah Talon races a South Portland opponent. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Ashley Clark duels a Riot. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Emma Yale battles. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

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