LEOMINSTER — Seventy minutes had decided nothing.
And as the end of a second sudden-victory, seven-on-seven overtime period drew closer, it looked like 80 wouldn’t be enough for No. 12 Leominster High and 21st-seeded North Attleboro on Thursday night.
But with just 1:42 left in the second extra period, Emma Miller found the back of the cage to lift the Blue Devils to a 2-1 victory in the opening round of the Division 2 tournament at Doyle Field.
“I just wanted the game to end. We needed to score,” Miller said. “My legs were hurting, but we had good rotations with players coming in and keeping things fresh and I think that pushed us to get that goal at the end.”
Miller picked up a loose ball on the right side and rushed in, slotting a low shot past North Attleboro goalkeeper Gracie Leary (eight saves) for the game-winner for the Blue Devils (11-7-1).
While Leominster advances to the round of 16, North Attleboro’s season comes to a close with an 8-10-1 mark.
“At this point, everybody is starting fresh, everybody wants to win and nobody wants it to be their last game,” Leominster head coach Kate Phillips said. “There’s something that happens when November turns and the weather gets cold. There’s this fuel in everyone’s body and they just turn it up. (North Attleboro) is a great team and they played a hell of a game tonight.”
Knotted at 1 in the fourth quarter, Leominster looked to have taken the lead with 3:40 left courtesy of a Miller drive from the left side. But despite the ball finding the back of the net, the goal was nullified as the officials ruled the shot was too high and a dangerous play.
“I think when you have that many opportunities, the only frustration is waiting for one to actually make its way in. The fact that it was going in was tough. … I think with Emma’s shot, the call could’ve gone either way. But the message was to keep doing what we were doing because what we were doing was getting shots on net and getting the ball to where it needed to be. We just had to keep doing what we were doing and hope we’d get one to find its way into the back of the net.”
In the fourth quarter and first OT, Leominster netminder Kailyn Cuddahy was spectacular as the visiting Rocketeers surged. The junior goalie showed no hesitation in coming off her line, making several big stops in the closing minutes of regulation and six saves on the night.
Leominster broke through for a 1-0 lead five minutes into the second quarter as a pass by Miller settled in front of the North Andover net and was shot home by Taylor Boulay.
But the visiting Rocketeers pulled even 7:53 into the third as Julia Smith’s shot trickled through Cuddahy for the equalizer.