C South field hockey semifinal: Spruce Mountain downs Dirigo

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JAY — Spruce Mountain came out “full force” against Dirigo in Saturday’s Class C South field hockey semifinal, scoring two goals in the first half and another one minute into the second in a 4-1 victory. Now the Phoenix are headed back to the regional final, where they’ll face top-seeded Mountain Valley on Tuesday

The two regular-season matchups between the No. 2 Phoenix (10-5-1) and the No. 3 Cougars (10-6) were both one-goal wins for Spruce Mountain, despite Dirigo scoring the first goal in each. So the Phoenix knew they could rally from a deficit, but they didn’t want to let it get to that point.

“We went into this game full force,” senior Erin McPherson said.

McPherson scored the first two goals of the game, both on assists from classmate Brooke Buote. The first came eight minutes in, the second less than five minutes later.

“We were hungry in the circle,” McPherson said. “We were all in our positions and where we needed to be, and I guess once the ball came around it just happened.”

“It was a big lift,” Phoenix coach Jane DiPompo said. “It really helped us energize, and helped us keep our spirits up, and helped us keep ‘Yeah, we can do this,’ and confidence and momentum and all that stuff.”

Dirigo coach Gretchen Curtis said her team expected a fast start from the Phoenix, but they still couldn’t stop it.

“They came out to play,” Curtis said. “They were clearly the better team, they wanted it, and she’s an awesome coach, and they deserve to win. They did a great job. We didn’t step it up.”

Auriana Armandi made it 3-0 just 54 seconds into the second half after charging through the Dirigo defense. The Cougars finally put their first shots on goal less than a minute later, and Kailey Hackett put them on the board 6:27 in, on an assist from Sophia Jacques.

Curtis said she liked the way her team played for those few minutes early in the first half.

DiPompo called a timeout after Hackett’s goal, telling her team not to panic. The senior-laden Phoenix didn’t, allowing just one shot on goal the rest of the way, and sealing the victory with a Buote goal from Isabelle Castonguay with 7:32 to play.

Dirigo freshman goalie Allie Dyke made seven saves, while Melissa Bamford stopped three shots for the Phoenix, who will face Mountain Valley for the third time this season.

The teams split a pair of regular-season games, with the visitor winning both times. But Tuesday’s regional final will take place at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.

“We’re real hungry,” McPherson said. “Ready for turf time.”

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