WATERVILLE — Edward Little girls soccer coach Craig Latuscha insisted that the playoffs are a different animal, a different type of game than the one played during the regular season. Try selling that to Messalonskee, though.

For the Eagles, these playoffs felt far too familiar.

Bitten by the same lack of finishing that haunted Messalonskee throughout the fall, the fourth-seeded Eagles were bounced by No. 5 Edward Little, 1-0, in a Class A North quarterfinal Monday at Thomas College. The Red Eddies (7-7-1), who will play in the regional semifinals Saturday, got an unlikely goal from senior midfielder Grace Beaudet as the game closed in on halftime as well as an eight-save shutout from goalkeeper Taylor Depot.

“We knew we weren’t going to make many opportunities,” Beaudet said. “We had to shoot on the opportunities we did get. We had to finish the ones we got, because there weren’t going to be many.”

There wasn’t much to be said about Edward Little’s attack beyond Beaudet’s brilliant strike from 20 yards out against the run of play in the 38th minute. The Eddies were outshot 23-4, put only two shots on target and were often at a loss when it came to closing down Messalonskee’s prevalent midfield possession.

None of that mattered to Latuscha, though, not with his team fighting to make up for the loss of two starters to injury against a Messalonskee side (9-2-4) that lost just once during the regular season.

“We played a different strategy,” Latuscha said. “We talked about what we needed to do, and we did everything we needed to do today. I didn’t mind if they shot from 40 yards out… My team didn’t give up, we fought to the end and we pulled out a win.”

Where Latuscha opted to play a different style in the postseason, Messalonskee felt the all-too-familiar pangs of being good — but not quite good enough.

The Eagles scored 42 goals during the regular season. Exactly half of that output came in just three games — two against Oxford Hills and a 10-0 blowout of Cony early in September, often leaving Messalonskee searching for the same thing over and over.

“Finishing,” said acting coach Silas Bell, who took over the program for Penny Stansfield at the beginning of the month. Stansfield had not coached the Messalonskee side since Oct. 3, for reasons athletic director Tom Hill would not disclose.

“We have the whole puzzle sitting there in front of us, and it’s the finish that’s the most important part. That’s where the other team beat us today, with that one shot.”

Messalonskee had plenty of early chances, connecting often through the midfield and carrying possession to the attacking third in waves. It was there, though, that it broke down time and again.

Past the hour mark and still in search of an equalizing goal, the Eagles switched into a 3-5-2 to try and get more numbers forward and crack the Eddies under additional pressure. But that pressure never really materialized, and as the clock forged on into the 76th, 78th and 80th minutes, Messalonskee showed little desperation.

Five second-half corner kicks produced only one shot on frame for the home team.

“That’s what wins or loses these games,” Bell said. “We had four ties during the season, and it comes down to the finish. One touch, one leader, one person, one hungry athlete. We just didn’t have it today.”

“We’ve been playoff-bound the last four years,” Latuscha said. “We know what the playoffs are like. This is a fresh season, and our girls believe that. Any team that shows up on any day can beat anybody.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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