TOPSHAM — Wyley Fitzpatrick looked skyward after her breakaway shot in double overtime rolled wide of the Messalonskee goal. 

Often, a player doesn’t get a second chance in such a big moment.

On Tuesday in the Class A North quarterfinals, the senior did indeed get another opportunity, this time burying a breakaway shot neatly into the lower left corner of the Messalonskee cage for a 2-1 Mt. Ararat victory at Mt. Ararat Middle School. 

Mt. Ararat junior Annie Wilkins, right, defends Messalonskee forward Rylee Poulin during a Class A North field hockey quarterfinal Tuesday at Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham. Times Record photo by Bob Conn

Mt. Ararat, seeded fourth, takes on top-seeded Skowhegan in the semifinals Saturday. But for now, coach Krista Chase’s Eagles celebrated after ending a 17-game losing streak to Messalonskee and avenging last year’s 6-2 quarterfinal loss on the same field. 

“It is huge because Messalonskee is such a well-coached and well-disciplined program, and they have been for decades,” said Chase. “We know the good programs in this state, and we have worked really hard to close the gap between those top teams and us. This has been a good group to start believing that we can compete with these teams. That is really what it’s all about, just believing in ourselves as competitors.”

“If there is a coach to lose to, it is Krista,” said Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin, showing her respect for her counterpart. “She has built this program from the ground up. She deserves all the credit. She is an amazing person and coach.”

In a game that saw momentum shifts throughout, Mt. Ararat grabbed the final bit of energy when Fitzpatrick tipped the ball behind the Messalonskee defense near midfield and sprinted toward the goal and netminder Nealey Dillon (11 saves). Unlike her first chance, Fitzpatrick used the center of the field to create an angle, and her shot slipped past the right pad of Dillon and into the cage, setting off a Mt. Ararat celebration. 

“This is a big win for this team. We all started crying,” said Fitzpatrick, whose winning goal came with 3:58 left in the second overtime. We stayed composed, and the defense and midfield played amazing.

“She is so fast, and a turf player,” said Chase of Fitzpatrick. “I was worried about her breakaways on grass because they’re different. She got our goal in overtime on turf against Brunswick at Bowdoin. On grass, it is bumpy, unpredictable, divots everywhere. I wasn’t sure she could finish. She has done a great job for us up front. It was a full team effort today.”

After an evenly played scoreless first half — the shots were 6-6 and Messalonskee held a slight 6-5 edge in penalty corners — Mt. Ararat grabbed a 1-0 lead when Brea Holtet gathered a rebound off a Fitzpatrick shot and slipped the ball into the cage with 23:52 left. 

Messalonskee applied pressure from there and finally scored the tying goal with 10:45 left in regulation. On a penalty corner, Rylee Poulin uncorked a low shot that Mt. Ararat keeper Emma Lapreziosa (10 saves) stopped. Emily Crowell was there for the rebound, falling to the field and onto Lapreziosa as the ball crossed the goal line. 

Chase called a timeout with 2:57 left, calming her team for the final stretch. 

“In the first game (a 3-1 loss to Messalonskee on Sept. 5), we were up 1-0 through 35 minutes and that was all that we could do. We learned after watching film, seeing how we could play with Messalonskee and put together almost 76 minutes into good field hockey, Chase said. 

The game slipped into overtime. In the first eight-minute period, Mt. Ararat had the best chance when Brynn Charron put a shot on goal that Dillon stopped. 

Fitzpatrick, who was guarded expertly throughout the contest by Messalonskee defenders Shea Cassani, Francesca Caccamo and Crowell, tipped a loose ball behind the defense. She darted in on Dillon, who charged out from her goal to take the angle away. Fitzpatrick’s shot harmlessly rolled two feet wide of the target. 

Moments later, the game was over. 

“In that overtime, my girls left it all out on that field. As a coach, you can’t ask for more than that,” said McLaughlin after her Eagles finished 9-6. “It is a mentally tough team that we have here. We knew coming in that this was a very even match.”

After earning her program’s first win over Messalonskee since 2002, Chase’s Mt. Ararat Eagles face an even bigger obstacle next — 15-0 Skowhegan, which defeated No. 8 Bangor, 11-1, on Tuesday in the quarterfinals. 

“Anything can happen in the playoffs, in sports, and you never know exactly what will go on,” said Chase. We will prepare, get on the field and battle. Our goal is to see how much noise we can make in the conference, and we will try to do that going forward.”

Mt. Ararat had 12 penalty corners to Messalonskee’s 11, with the hosts outshooting the visitors by a 13-11 count. 

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