GARDINER — Her team was losing, and on the verge of being dealt the knockout blow early in the second half. But Erskine girls lacrosse coach Shara MacDonald knew the Eagles weren’t finished yet.

“They don’t quit,” she said. “That’s one thing I credit them with, is their persistence.”

The Eagles showed it again Monday, rallying from a four-goal deficit in the second half, and then getting an overtime goal from Joanna Linscott to beat Gardiner, 12-11, score a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference victory and get the type of win that can propel a team throughout the upcoming games.

“This will do a lot for our team, honestly,” said Linscott, whose game-high four goals helped Erskine charge back from a 10-6 deficit with less than 21 minutes to play. “I feel like winning will boost (the confidence). This is our first time beating Gardiner.”

Her coach shared the thought.

“It’s one of those things where, as a team, we’ve talked about the teams that we’ll be competitive with and the teams we’d like to beat,” MacDonald said. “And this is one of those teams.”

Jordan Linscott added three goals for the Eagles (4-1), while Kassidy Wade — who netted the game-tying goal with 1:35 to go in regulation — and Sarah Praul scored two apiece. Madisyn Smith led the Tigers (2-3) with three goals, while Anna Chadwick, Madelin Walker and Scarlett Raymond-Ayer added two each and goalie Skye Cotnoir made 14 saves.

“I think, ultimately, we got ourselves into a pretty tough situation in the last few minutes,” said coach Jessica Prince, whose team was playing down two players when it surrendered the tying goal. “We were able to gut it out a little bit and get it to overtime, but that kind of sealed it for us.”

Erskine was looking for the tying tally down 11-10 in the closing minutes when penalties sent first Chadwick and then Walker to the sideline and gave the Eagles the advantage with 1:44 to play. It took them 9 seconds to cash in, as Wade got the ball up near the net and quickly fired past Cotnoir to knot the game at 11.

The game went to overtime, where Erskine quickly gained control and fired three shots on different possessions, with Cotnoir making a save and the other two going wide. The Tigers couldn’t put a counter-attack together, however, and Joanna Linscott soon earned a free position attempt, then buried the shot with 23 seconds remaining.

“Their goalie’s really good, so I had to angle it down, and I knew that their goalie would probably come out on me,” Linscott said. “I had to figure out some way to get it in. … I don’t try to think too hard, because then I’ll mess something up.”

Considering the way the second half started, it was surprising the Eagles found themselves in that position at all. Gardiner led 7-6 after a back-and-forth first half in which neither team led by more than two goals, but then started to pull away from Erskine after the break on goals by Chadwick, Raymond-Ayer and Walker, the last of which made it 10-6 with 22:27 to go.

And yet, the Tigers could have had more. Smith appeared to score and up the lead to five with 21:36 to go, but officials waved off the goal. Gardiner was still comfortably ahead, but Prince could sense the game’s direction changing with the decision.

“(It was) a big momentum shift,” she said. “I think when that goal was disallowed, you could see our team get a little flat and let down, even though we were up. And that’s when they kind of made their next few goals to tighten that gap.”

Whether or not the Eagles felt a boost, that was when the game turned. Wade scored on a free position a little more than a minute later, Tori Grasse slung in a shot with 17:44 left, and Joanna Linscott threw one in over her shoulder to make it 10-9 with 16:10 to go.

The rally was slowed when Cotnoir made a stop on a free position with 10:30 remaining and Gardiner’s Emma Bourget scored with 6:26 to play. But Erskine fought back, getting the third goal from Jordan Linscott to make it an 11-10 game with 2:37 left and set up the final dramatics.

“They’re very, very good athletes,” MacDonald said of the Linscotts. “They’ve got tremendous stick work, and they know how to pull people out of position to get the shooting space call.”

Meanwhile, it was a missed opportunity for Gardiner, one Prince hopes her team will learn from.

“I think we got out-worked a little bit today,” she said. “I definitely hope we take from this the feeling of being up and being able to stay up, and not let them close that gap. Continue to play our game, and string it together for all 50 minutes.”


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