Messalonskee advances past Lewiston on penalty corners – Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel

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Field hockey: Francesca Caccamo scored in the fourth round of corners shootout to send the Eagles to the Class A North semifinals with a 2-1 win.
LEWISTON — Seventy-six minutes wasn’t enough to settle Tuesday’s Class A North quarterfinal matchup between Messalonskee and Lewiston.
The game went to penalty corners, and in the fourth round, Francesca Caccamo scored the golden goal to give the fifth-seeded Eagles a 2-1 win over the No. 4 Blue Devils at Don Roux Field. Caccamo’s game-winning shot came from the top of the circle, directly off the insert.
“I think that’s the longest game I think we have ever played,” Caccamo said. “Everyone put it all on the field, and I am so glad we came out with that win.”
The Eagles will next face the winner of Wednesday’s game between No. 1 Skowhegan and No. 8 Camden Hills in the A North semifinals later this week.
Messalonskee coach Katie Brann was proud of her team for pulling off what she said will go down as a memorable win Tuesday.
“It was incredible; I don’t think I will ever forget this game,” Katie Brann said. “This is my first year coaching this team, and I got to know the overtime situation very well and all the rules. But my girls played so incredible, played with so much heart, and they dug deep for the 60-plus minutes.”
After two scoreless overtime periods, neither team scored in the first three rounds of the penalty corner shootout.
Lewiston had some tense moments after Messalonskee’s third turn. Blue Devils goalie Kim McLaughlin made two outstanding saves to force a fourth round, then stayed on the ground and appeared to be injured. But, Lewiston coach Jenessa Talarico said, there was little doubt that McLaughlin was going to be back in the cage in the fourth round.
“She’s a very tough kid. I knew even though she was hurt, she instantly said, ‘I am not done, I am not done,’” Talarico said. “She’s the type of person, no matter how hurt she is, she’s going to get back up and give it her all. That’s what she did.
“That was a beautiful shot by (Caccamo in the fourth round), and I don’t know any goalie who would have saved that one.”
The only meeting between the two teams in the regular season also went into the overtime, the Blue Devils (7-6-1) winning 2-1 on Sept. 18. Tuesday was the Eagles’ sixth one-goal game, and the only one they lost was to Lewiston.
“We knew (Lewiston) had some very strong ballhandlers, girls that can get the ball down the field quickly,” Brann said. “We  tried to adjust to our best to account for where they like to attack and get more organized defensively.”
EAGLES TAKE EARLY LEAD
Both teams had a corner early in the first quarter. However, the Blue Devils missed on their opportunity while the Eagles (11-5) scored on theirs. The goal didn’t come off the initial shot; instead, there was a battle in the crease, and Isabel Kramer put the ball into the cage for a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game.
The Eagles managed to keep the play on Lewiston’s end of the field for most of the first period. The Blue Devils had a second penalty corner near the end of the quarter, but the shot went wide.
“We had a very dominate first quarter, and I think we let off the gas a little too much (in the second),” Brann said. “We really need to learn to sustain our energy for the four quarters.”
Lewiston carried momentum into the second quarter and maintained it for most of the period. The Blue Devils started to set up their offense near the circle in the final five minutes and got off four shots on goal in that span.
“At the end of the first quarter, we talked about how Messalonskee built a wall or an arch, keeping the ball out of the circle,” Talarico said. “I told our forwards we have to flash in front of the arch or else we won’t ever get the ball down there. In the second quarter, they did a much better job of cutting in front of that line of defense.”
In the third quarter, the Eagles — who didn’t have a shot on goal in the second — put pressure on McLaughlin and forced a corner in the first minute, but they didn’t capitalize.
McLaughlin made a kick save on Messalonskee’s second corner of the third to keep Lewiston within one goal. She also stopped a long shot a minute later.
BLUE DEVILS’ EQUALIZER
In the fourth quarter, Lewiston midfielder CeCi Miller took the ball end-to-end and fired a shot on Eagles goalie Nealy Dillon, who made the save, but Lewiston forward Lexi Freeman put home the rebound to tie the score at 1-1.
“CeCi Miller is one of the hardest-working players I have ever had the privilege of coaching,” Talarico said. “That girl never stops, she never gets tired, she played every game at this school since she was a freshman. That’s hard to do. I can speak volumes on how talented she is.”
Brann said the Eagles had to regroup when their 1-0 lead didn’t hold up.
“I think it was a reality check,” Brann said. “We were banking on that one goal the whole game, and to have that one (go in), it kept us honest.  I am most proud of our girls for never giving up, that they could finish it, whether it was in overtime or penalty corners.”
The Blue Devils had two chances from the 25-yard line in the final three minutes of regulation but didn’t convert. Lewiston also had a penalty corner in the final minute but were unable to get a solid shot on goal.
The two teams only generated one quality scoring change during the overtime periods, a shot by the Eagles that just missed the far post in the second.
“I mean, it was as hard as they possibly can play and still lose the game,” Talarico said. “They played a thousand percent, and unfortunately, it wasn’t the result they wanted. At the end of the day, you can’t be mad at a game that goes down to the wire like that.”
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