ORLEANS–Somebody had to win and somebody had to lose in the Lake Region-Mt. Abraham match on Friday afternoon.
No matter what happened, one team was going to leave the field feeling awful.
Sadly for the fans in Ranger Country, it was their much loved, much admired Lake Region boys, as the Eagles (7-7-1) tallied two goals in the final ten minutes of the contest to advance into the Division II semi-finals.
"I thought it was an excellent match," said coach Tom Evans. "It definitely could have gone either way and it happened to go their’s, so hats off to them."
With temperatures in the low 70's, it felt like the contest was taking place in early September instead of late October.
Mount Abe came out firing on all cylinders as play got underway at 3:00 p.m.
An early corner kick had the visitors in a prime spot to jump out to the quick lead.
The corner dropped into the Ranger 18, and an Eagle player got a foot on the ball and sent one earmarked for the right hand corner, but Charlie Epinette was in position to make the stop.
They kept up the pressure when Sawyer Kamman hit Ethan White in stride, but the forward missed the net wide.
Drew Gallup's header off of Lake Region's second corner kick was the first glimpse of offense for the Rangers on the afternoon, but it did not reach Eagle netminder Ira Fisher.
Things tapered off a bit after Gallup's header, with play staying for most part in between the two 18 yard lines.
Alex McCormick's direct kick could have put Mt. Abe on top, but he missed high.
Shaquille Urie had the Lake Region's best chance at this stage of the half when he sent a laser towards the bottom right-hand corner.
Fisher was ready though, diving to stop the ball and keep the match scoreless.
Josh Thibault followed that with another shot at Fisher, but was denied.
Coach Evans switched Shaquille and Alex Beauregard in the latter stages of the first half, hoping to create some more offense.
Urie was having a hard time finding space by this point, and that is exactly what Eagle coach Mike Corey was looking for.
"I think the difference was that our defense did a real good job (defending) Shaquille. We didn't let him get loose and we know how dangerous he is."
The switch paid off, but not without some frustration, as the most controversial play of the game happened with 6:30 left to go in the first.
The Rangers were pressuring the Eagles, and as they were working down low, Anthony Wright found Alex Beauregard who let go a howitzer of a shot.
But it wasn't Fisher who made the save, it was a Mt. Abe defender’s arm that stopped the ball.
Granted it was not intentional, but still, it was an obvious handball that did affect play and should have been whistled for a penalty-kick.
But it wasn't, and play moved on.
Lake Region continued to out perform Mt. Abe as the half wound down, but the score remained 0-0 at the break.
In the second you did not know what to expect.
Each team had their fair share of opportunities, and it started in the first minute with McCormick letting loose high shot towards LR keeper Dennis Newland, but it was too high and missed the net.
Wright shook loose right by the Eagle goal line, but the ball slid over the line nullifying a great move by Anthony.
After getting steamrolled later in the half, Wright would be shook up for the remainder of the match, forcing him to play at less than 100%.
Mt. Abe's Theo Weaver came close to putting the Eagles up as his shot rang off the post then hit the crossbar before being cleared away by Gallup.
Minutes later Byron Burdick made a huge block on Cale Thygesen's direct kick, which left the fullback in heap near the LR goal post.
He got back up to the roar of the crowd, and re-entered the game later.
With twenty-minutes left to play, the Rangers had their best looks at the Eagle cage.
Jeremy Dean, in for the injured Wright, made an excellent pass to Clint Provoncha, who fired high and wide.
Clint came again at Fisher firing a shot from point blank range, but the goalie made the stop.
With 13:37 left in regulation, Gallup took a direct kick but Fisher had the Rangers' number, and hauled in the ball.
He would stop a total of five shots to earn the shut-out
Three minutes later Thygesen sent in the game winner for the Eagles.
There was nothing Newland could do on this shot, it was place so perfectly.
Cale was going right to left, then shot left to right, finding the opening in the bottom-right side of the net.
White added the insurance goal with 2:36 left to play to lock up the win for Mt. Abe.
Newland had two saves for Lake Region who finish the year with an impressive 13-3 record.
Said Evans, "At the beginning of the year no one came close to predicting the kind of season we would have.
"Players like Drew Gallup, Josh, Carl Oberg, Dennis Newland in goal, Byron, and a lot of our seniors stepped up and played well. For us to be in this position is a testament to how well they played and I am proud of them."
While the team will lose eight seniors to graduation, a crew of skilled JV players will be waiting to join the returning Rangers and continue the Lake Region tradition under coach Evans in 2013.