WINDHAM—Windham’s boys’ soccer team is for real and visiting Falmouth found that out the hard way in an instant classic Wednesday evening.

In front of a large and vocal crowd, the Eagles went toe-to-toe with the reigning Class A champions and the teams produced a thriller which required more than 80 minutes to decide.

Windham got the jump with just over 9 minutes to go in the first half, when junior Connor Langstaff converted a penalty kick.

To no one’s surprise, the Navigators roared right back and drew even five minutes into the second half on a goal from senior Charlie Adams.

Each squad had good scoring chances late in regulation but couldn’t convert and the contest would go to overtime.

There, junior forward Tyler Johnsen etched his name in program lore with the Eagles biggest goal in years, scoring 2 minutes, 45 seconds in to give Windham an inspirational 2-1 victory.

The Eagles confirmed their status as a top contender in Class A South, improved to 7-0 and in the process, dropped Falmouth to 6-1-1.

“The team played great as a whole,” Johnsen said. “We stuck through the good and bad, made it all the way to overtime and it’s so awesome to be 7-0.”

(Windham’s) done a great job,” said longtime Navigators coach Dave Halligan. “They’re a much better team than they’ve been in the past. They’re organized, they have some good players with a lot of grit.”

Old versus new

Falmouth has been a state championship-caliber juggernaut for decades and while Windham has had its moments over the years, the Eagles have struggled in recent seasons.

This fall, Windham has been one of the feel-good stories of the first half of the season, starting by blanking South Portland (3-0), then beating Portland (2-0), Sanford (3-0), Massabesic (8-0), Kennebunk (3-1) and Marshwood (2-0).

Falmouth, meanwhile, opened by blanking visiting Sanford (6-0) and Massabesic (7-0), winning a close game at Gorham (2-1) and holding off visiting Kennebunk (1-0). After settling for a 1-1 home tie with Deering, the Navigators won at Bonny Eagle (4-1) and held off visiting Cheverus (5-3).

A year ago, Falmouth had no trouble with the visiting Eagles, 6-0, in the final game of a COVID-shortened season. The then-Yachtsmen beat Windham by the same score in 2019 and hadn’t lost to the Eagles since moving up to Class A.

Wednesday, on a windy and chilly evening (57 degrees at kickoff and 54 degrees at the game’s conclusion), Windham made a powerful statement.

The Eagles had the first good scoring chance in the fourth minute, as Johnsen beat Falmouth junior goalkeeper Justin Mayo to a ball in the box, but a Navigators defender held Johnsen up long enough for Mayo to get back and save the shot.

In the 10th minute, Falmouth had its first good look, but a low shot from senior Sean MacDonald was saved by Windham senior goalkeeper Colby Connolly.

Adams then had two good chances, but his first (off a pass from junior Mason Quiet) was saved by Connolly and the second went just wide.

With 15:21 left in the first half, Adams set up senior Mason Farr in close and Farr appeared poised to open the scoring, but Connolly dove to make a terrific save and keep the contest scoreless.

Then, with 9:04 to go, the Eagles broke through, as freshman Luke Cunniffe was brought down in the box and a penalty kick was awarded.

Langstaff did the honors and confidently struck the ball low and past Mayo, who correctly guessed to his left but couldn’t reach the ball and Windham had a 1-0 lead.

The Eagles then hoped to double their advantage before the half, but senior Wyatt Flibbert shot high and Johnsen had a good look in the box blocked.

Falmouth then came out strong in the second half and promptly drew even.

With 36:14 to play, Farr fired a shot in the box which appeared to hit the hand of a Windham defender, which would have resulted in a PK, but no call was made.

Regardless, just over a minute later, with 35:02 remaining, freshman Griffin Parr crossed the ball into the box, it deflected off a defender and came right to Adams, who buried it to tie the game, 1-1.

The goal was just the second Windham had allowed all season, but the Eagles weren’t shaken.

At the other end, Cunniffe bid to put the hosts back on top, but his left-footed shot was saved by Mayo.

Then, with 32:02 to go, a cross from senior captain Sam Glicos curled in but rang off the crossbar. The rebound came right to Johnsen, but he rushed his shot wide.

He would atone.

The Navigators then hoped to go on top, but Farr missed wide and Parr had a long shot saved by Connolly.

With 23:33 to play, Mayo made his finest stop, diving to rob Glicos.

After MacDonald missed just high for Falmouth, Adams was just wide, Farr headed a cross from senior Andrew Christie into the side netting and Farr missed wide.

Late in regulation, Mayo beat Cunniffe to a Langstaff through ball and the contest would go to overtime.

Each team would have a good chance in the first of two possible five-minute, “sudden victory” OTs, but it would be Windham converting.

Just 21 seconds into overtime, MacDonald set up Farr for a chance to win it, but Connolly went sprawling to make the save.

At the other end, Langstaff crossed the ball from the right side and it carried over Mayo’s head, but luckily for the visitors, there was no one at the back post and the ball rolled just wide.

The next time, the Navigators wouldn’t be as fortunate.

The Eagles managed to keep possession and with 2:15 to go, Langstaff crossed the ball from a similar spot and it came to Johnsen at the top of the box, who, despite being hounded by a defender, one-timed a shot past Mayo, to the goalie’s right, for a 2-1 victory.

“Going into overtime, we wanted to attack and do our best,” Johnsen said. “I just saw the ball come over and I wanted to get my right foot on it and see where it goes. I just wanted to put it on frame. It felt great.”

“For the past seven, eight years, this is a program that hasn’t scored goals, especially against (top teams),” said Windham coach Ben Schulz. “We feel like on any given night, we have five or six kids who can score and that makes us dangerous.”

At 7:47 p.m., the celebration began.

“It was a crazy celebration,” Johnsen said. “This is huge for us. We were confident coming in. At halftime, we talked about how we’d have to play great and we pushed through and it was amazing. We stayed together as a team. We just kept everybody up and that’s the most important part.”

“We were 3-11 the last countable year, so to be 7-0 is something I want these guys to be proud of,” Schulz said. “We won a state championship 10 years ago, so this is a program that used to have some glory. Obviously, Falmouth’s a benchmark. To have them at home, with the fans here, it gave us an idea or whether we’re for real or not and we feel like we should be in the conversation. These guys have been getting together for a year-and-a-half. They really love each other and they love being together, not just on the field, but off it. I’m so proud of how they’ve come together.

“It would have been really easy for us to put our heads down after they got that equalizer, but we didn’t do it and I think that’s going to pay dividends when we get to the end of October. We just wanted to keep the same pressure we had going forward and tighten up our defense.”

Shots finished 7-7. The Eagles got six saves from Connolly.

Mayo made five saves for Falmouth, which had a 5-3 edge in corner kicks.

“We had our chances, but we had to bury those chances,” Halligan said. “We had four quality chances in the first half and five in the second and you have to put those away. It was a good, hard-fought game. We want games like this.”

Work to do

Windham will celebrate until practice begins Thursday, as another huge game looms Saturday when Gorham pays a visit. The Eagles go to Cheverus next Wednesday.

They aim to be even better on Oct. 29 than they are in the aftermath of this seismic victory.

“We have Gorham coming up and this will boost team morale,” Johnsen said. “We just have to stay strong as a team and keep getting our fitness in and keep playing soccer.”

“We just have to come out and work every day and understand that this isn’t the finish line, it’s the halfway point of our season,” Schulz said. “I want us to be excited, but we have Gorham coming here Saturday, then Cheverus and Deering. It just keeps going. We have a lot to work on, but we’re pretty happy where we’re at.”

Falmouth is home for its next two games, Friday versus Biddeford and the following Wednesday against Thornton Academy. Even bigger games await near the end of the schedule.

“We have a good stretch of games to end the season, South Portland, Scarborough and Portland,” Halligan said. “We’ll build. We don’t care where we go in (to the playoffs). We just want to get better.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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