PORTLAND—The Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete co-op girls’ hockey team is having itself a week to remember.

Wednesday afternoon, two days after a pivotal victory over Cheverus, Cape/SP/Waynflete earned an even bigger boost of confidence when it hosted and defeated reigning state champion Lewiston at Troubh Ice Arena.

And Cape/SP/Waynflete had to do it the hard way.

Coming from behind.

A month after a decisive loss at Lewiston on a night it was playing shorthanded, Cape/SP/Waynflete got off to a fast start on a goal from freshman Libby Hooper and after the Blue Devils answered on a goal from senior Lilly Gish, freshman Catie Lee scored to give the home team a 2-1 lead after one period.

Lewiston then roared back in the second period to seemingly take control, as senior Leah Landry tied it, junior Leah Dube scored the go-ahead goal and senior Kristen Lachance found the net too for a 4-2 advantage.

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But the Blue Devils quickly learned in the third period that Cape/SP/Waynflete was far from finished, as freshman Hartson Masunic scored to make things interesting, then freshman Marina Bassett scored on a rebound to tie it.

Neither team scored from there and the contest would go to a eight-minute, “sudden victory” overtime and Cape/SP/Waynflete needed less than two minutes to complete its stirring comeback, as Bassett played the hero, finishing after a terrific individual effort to produce a 5-4 victory.

Cape/SP/Waynflete got all five goals from freshmen as it improved to 10-2-2, secured its position as the top seed in the South Region and in the process, handed Lewiston just its second loss in 14 games.

“We showed a lot of resilience,” said Cape/SP/Waynflete coach Bob Mills. “The girls have a deep desire to win. Having just beaten Cheverus 48 hours ago, it was really good for the coaches to see that amount of drive.”

Youth is served

Cape/SP/Waynflete opened with wins over visiting St. Dom’s (8-2) and Portland/Deering (10-2), then knocked off Cheverus (4-3) and visiting Edward Little (5-3) and Biddeford (6-0) before settling for a 2-2 tie at Scarborough. After a 5-1 victory at Gorham, the squad suffered its first loss, 7-0, at Lewiston, then was sidelined for nearly three weeks due to a COVID pause before beating host Biddeford (8-1), falling at home to Scarborough (4-2) and beating visiting Falmouth (3-0) and Cheverus (4-2).

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Lewiston won its first four games, was beaten by visiting Scarborough, then rattled off eight straight victories entering play Wednesday.

In the teams’ first meeting New Year’s Day, the Blue Devils broke it open with a four-goal second period. Lewiston also edged Cape/SP/Waynflete in the 2020 state final, 1-0, in overtime.

Wednesday, on Cape/SP/Waynflete’s Senior Day (Katharine Blackburn, Sofia Cook and Abby Dresser were honored), the Blue Devils appeared poised to win again, but Cape/SP/Waynflete had other ideas and roared back.

Cape/SP/Waynflete started fast, as Lee passed the puck to Bassett, who skated in and set up Hooper for a shot which beat Lewiston junior goalie Kim McLaughlin just inside the far post for a 1-0 lead at 1:48 of the first period.

The Blue Devils answered at 2:58, as Gish shot from just inside the blue line and Cape/SP/Waynflete junior goalie Abbey Steinhagen couldn’t make the save. Freshman Toree St. Hilaire and senior Charlotte Cloutier were credited with assists.

After Steinhagen twice denied junior Alyssa Marcoux in close, Dube rang a shot off the crossbar for Lewiston and at the other end, at 6:51, Bassett had a shot saved by McLaughlin, but Lee was there to score on the rebound and Cape/SP/Waynflete was back on top, 2-1, a lead it would carry to the first intermission, thanks in large part to 11 saves from Steinhagen.

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Lewiston then took over in a second period, which saw it enjoy a 16-4 shots advantage.

Steinhagen held the Blue Devils at bay initially, stopping Lachance on a rush, but at 6:08, Landry rebounded home St. Hilaire’s shot to tie it.

Lewiston then killed a Cape/SP/Waynflete penalty without allowing a shot and at 11:18, Landry set up Dube for the go-ahead strike.

After McLaughlin twice saved potential game-tying bids from Hooper, Lachance scored on a rebound of Marcoux’s shot at 12:58, with senior Rebecca Lussier also earning an assist, and the Blue Devils had a seemingly safe 4-2 advantage heading to the third period.

Making matters worse for Cape/SP/Waynflete, Lewiston started the third on the power play, but couldn’t convert and that brought the home team to life.

With 13:20 remaining, after McLaughlin robbed sophomore Becca Good in front, Mosunic banged home the rebound (Cook was also credited with an assist) and the deficit was just one.

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Then, with 12:13 on the clock, Cape/SP/Waynflete pulled even, as McLaughlin saved a shot from Hooper, but Bassett got to the loose puck and buried it to tie the score, 4-4.

“I saw the puck and I saw the open net and I just put it in,” said Bassett.”

Cape/SP/Waynflete then went on the power play, but couldn’t manage a shot.

Both teams had good chances down the stretch, but McLaughlin saved shots from Mosunic, Bassett and junior Delaney Whitten and Steinhagen denied St. Hilaire on the doorstep, robbed Dube, then, in the final minute, she stopped both St. Hilaire and Dube again in front and the contest would go to an extra session.

There, Cape/SP/Waynflete wasn’t content to settle for a tie and immediately pressured for the winner.

McLaughlin turned aside the first good shot, from Lee, but with 6:03 on the clock, Bassett got the puck on the left side, raced in, drew the defense, then skated around the goal and before McLaughlin could react, Bassett tucked the puck into the goal to win it, 5-4.

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“I saw the goalie was on the other side, so I skated around and put it in,” Bassett said. “It feels awesome.”

“The team’s being led by a lot of underclassmen right now,” said Mills. “(Marina’s) very skilled and has a desire to win.”

The goal set off a wild celebration.

“It feels great to see everyone come together as a team and get to celebrate,” Bassett said. “I wasn’t there for the first game. We were missing some good players. I knew we could come out and beat them if we played together. We just had to keep our intensity in the third period and we did that.”

“We stuck with the system, didn’t let emotion get the best of us and we just kept grinding,” Mills said. “We just asked the girls to raise their compete factor and keep going. We’ve worked hard all season on playing three complete periods and we’re getting there. In overtime, we told them to stick with the game plan, stay calm and get shots on net.”

Steinhagen stood tall throughout, making 35 saves. Cape/SP/Waynflete went 0-for-2 on the power play.

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Lewiston had a 39-22 shots advantage and got 17 saves from McLaughlin, but failed to convert its power play opportunity.

“It just kind of fell apart in a couple minutes,” lamented Blue Devils coach Ron Dumont. “They did a great job against us. They moved the puck across, used the whole ice, east to west, and we haven’t seen a lot of that, so we left our backside exposed and good for them for exploiting that. They’re one of the top teams in the state and I knew they had a couple kids out the first time, so I expected it to be closer.

“It’s a tough one to lose, but lesson learned and it’s a good time to learn.”

Playoffs near

Lewiston has two games remaining, at Scarborough Thursday and at Cheverus Saturday.

“I can ask for anything better, closing against three top teams,” Dumont said. “We can do our homework for the playoffs. We’ll have to work hard.”

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Cape/SP/Waynflete closes at York Saturday.

Then, the squad is ready to make a title run.

“This lets people know that we’re a team that can beat good teams,” said Bassett. “I think we just need to communicate and look for each other out there. This is so fun.”

“This demonstrates to us that we can be a state championship-caliber team,” Mills said. “Beating two very good teams in 24 hours helps that. We just have to play like we have been and hope for the best. Cheverus and Scarborough are very tough and York is playing very well. We just have to keep at it. It’s a really fun team.”

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

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