Molly Gagne knocks in a late equalizer for Missisquoi in what ended up as a 3-2, double-overtime loss to Lamoille in Wednesday's Division II playdown. (Ben Kaufmann Photo)


By Ben Kaufmann

SWANTON – Hosting its second postseason game in as many years after 14 years of failing to secure a home playoff game, Missisquoi was once again upset by the visitors on Wednesday in the Division II playdown round. After twice coming from behind to tie the game, the Thunderbirds yielded a goal with just over two minutes gone in the second overtime and fell to Lamoille, 3-2.

A beauty of a free-kick early in the second half from Ava Hubbard had knotted the score at 1-1 and Molly Gagne blasted in a rebound with just 1:04 remaining in regulation to force overtime after the No. 10 Lancers (8-7) had already assumed its 2-1 lead would hold up. Lamoille had the better of play in the first overtime period, nearly putting the No. 7 Thunderbirds (10-4-1) away on three occasions before finally knocking in a breakaway with 2:08 gone in the final overtime period.

“We battled back, we got back in this game,” said Missisquoi coach Roy Adams. “We fought to the end and put it into overtime, we were there. Ball goes the other way, we get it. But hat’s off to Lamoille, they played a great game, we knew it was going to be a tough battle the whole way.”

The Lancers looked to be the significantly better team in the early going, capitalizing on a bad giveaway from the T-Birds to take a deserved 1-0 lead with 13 minutes gone in the first half. Missisquoi didn’t put a shot on goal until the midway point of the first half and was outshot 8-2 in the opening 40 minutes, relying on seven big saves from Shanneal Unwin to carry just the 1-0 deficit into halftime.

Once the Thunderbirds came to life, the tables were turned and Lamoille spent much of the final 60 minutes of regulation on its heels. Arianna Bourdeau, Hubbard, Destinee Pigeon and Gagne all had or created good chances in the second portion of the first half. MVU’s best chance of the frame came when Abigail Raleigh bent a beautiful cross around the Lamoille keeper with 12 minutes left before halftime. Kerri Campbell got to the ball but was nearing the goal line at the far post, decided there wasn’t enough angle to shoot and instead tried a pass back to the middle which was cleared away.

Hubbard, who spent most of Wednesday with Lamoille’s Kaylee White assigned to offer no more than 18 inches of breathing room to MVU’s junior star. But when a free-kick was awarded 25 yards away from Lamoille’s net with the sun in the keeper’s eyes, White and the Lancers were forced to offer 10 yards of breathing room and Hubbard took advantage with a bending shot into the upper-left corner to knot the game at 1-1 with just 2:18 gone in the second half.

The joy of Hubbard’s score didn’t last long. Lamoille did its damage with high lead passes to its speedy forwards all day and got back to that routine just two minutes after losing the lead. The tie only lasted 130 seconds before Phoebe Loomis broke free beyond the Missisquoi defense to give a 2-1 lead to her Lancers.

MVU’s Madison Gagne celebrates with Ava Hubbard after Hubbard’s free-kick goal knotted the score early in the second half of Wednesday’s playdown loss to Lamoille. (Ben Kaufmann Photo)

Two minutes later, a close-range shot from Alexandra Brouillette was saved and a Brouillette header from another Hubbard free-kick was caught cleanly four minutes after that. Pigeon tried to find Abigail Wilcox with a cross but the ball was scooped up before Wilcox could get to it. Though MVU’s backline of Eleanor Maguire, Alexandra Bourdeau, Madison Guyette and Madison Gagne kept the Lancers from getting much for close shots, the Thunderbirds didn’t get many close chances of their own over the final 20 minutes.

With a little over a minute left, Missisquoi had one last chance to force extra time. Hubbard lined up a corner and served a good ball to Brouillette, who tried a volley but was blocked by a defender. The ball took one hop back a few yards and Molly Gagne stepped forward and crushed the equalizer to the keeper’s right to set a 2-2 score with 1:04 left and force overtime.

Extra time was all Lamoille. The Lancers put a shot off the post and another off the crossbar, somehow put an eight-yard shot wide and forced a point-blank-range save from Unwin – the finest of her 13 on the day. Lamoille freshman Logan Freeman got loose on a breakaway with just 2:08 gone in the second overtime and offered Unwin no chance, rolling home the winner to give the Lancers a 3-2 win and quarterfinal berth.

“Great game, super game,” said Adams, who has earned a home playoff game in consecutive years after Missisquoi failed to achieve that mark from 2006-2019. “They got the shot they needed and we didn’t, I don’t know what else to say. They’ve come a long ways, the program’s come a long ways and I’m just proud to be a part of it.”

Adams took time to note the seven seniors who battled through two overtimes Wednesday and brought the program from a 2+ year losing streak to consecutive winning seasons. Gracie Gover, Tiauna Clark, Arianna Bourdeau, Madison Gagne, Abigail Paquette, Madison Aiken and Brouillette will graduate this spring after helping the T-Bird program reclaim respectability.

“Hat’s off to our seniors, they worked their tails off out there. Of course, they’re disappointed that they didn’t get the win, who wouldn’t be? Everyone wants to win these games.”

Lamoille advances to a quarterfinal against No. 2 Woodstock on Saturday.