For the second time, Victoria Newbill played hero in an extra session.
Newbill collected a pass just outside the circle up the right side, carried the ball on the run to a tough angle, drew Oxford Hills keeper Shannon Fillebrown out of the cage and fired a shot past her to lift the Cougars to a 3-2 win over the Vikings on Monday.
“I don’t even remember who passed it to me,” Newbill said. “I tried asking around but I never found out. But it was a nice pass, and I felt someone coming behind me. I pulled the goalie and just powered up and got it in. It was a hard angle for her, and it was a hard shot for me, but the speed on it, I think, is what made it hard to defend.”
In the last meeting between the two schools, Newbill netted the winner in the second overtime. In Monday’s overtime, she took less than two minutes. Still, it was two minutes too long for the Mt. Blue faithful.
“It’s not fun going into overtime, it’s definitely not,” Newbill said.
That the game went into an extra session at all is a testament to the Vikings’ ability to rebound from a tough start. Down 1-0 at the half after failing to register a shot on goal, Oxford Hills (9-5) gave up another with 17:02 to play in regulation time when Taylor Hollingdale ripped a shot from the top of the circle that appeared to slip between Fillebrown’s pads as Newbill looked for a tip.
“It went right through the goalie’s pads,” Mt. Blue coach Jody Harmon said. “(Newbill) being there was a hindrance to the goalie, enough to make it harder for the goalie to stop the ball.”
The Vikings called timeout and regrouped.
“(Head coach) Cindy (Goddard) basically told them, ‘It’s time for a gut check, ladies,'” assistant coach Michele Wood said. “That was pretty much it. And they responded.”
Clara Hamlin, called up from the junior varsity squad to fill in for the day, pushed the ball into the cage on her team’s first shot of the second half.
“We just brought her up from JV today,” Goddard said. “It was great. She has good speed and she has a lot of intensity. She was great in the middle of the field, and really helped our intensity there.”
Just 2:04 later, Erin Morton let go a rocket from the left wing into the far right corner of the cage at the tail end of a penalty corner try to even the game at 2-2.
“We thought they were really quick coming out on those corners, so we were glad she actually took that shot,” Goddard said. “She’s confident and she has a good shot.”
Losing the two-goal lead did not sit well with the Cougars, who called timeout with 10:36 to play.
“They were good shots, too, it wasn’t like some soft shot, too,” Newbill said. “You get slack, you figure, ‘Oh, two up, we’ve got this, we just have to hold them.’ But you can’t ever just hold a team, that’s not how you play field hockey. You have to keep the pressure up the entire time.”
“We got up 2-0, and we got lax on defense,” Harmon added. “We were up by two. That’s nothing. That’s not enough. I’m not comfortable unless it’s 10-0. But they learned. They can’t get slack. They have to play to the end.”
The game had added significance for both teams. A win for either side meant hosting an Eastern Class A quarterfinal next week in a rematch of these same two teams, who were locked into the 4-5 positions before the game started.
“I would rather be at home, but we know who we’re going to play,” Goddard said. “It’ll be fun to play them again. Especially on our end. I think it gets a little more gritty when you didn’t get a win either time in the season. We’re the underdog and we have something to prove.”
Oxford Hills’ goal: Avoid overtime if possible.
“Third time’s a charm, isn’t it?” Goddard asked with a smirk. “The season is the season, now we have the playoffs.”
Not that Mt. Blue is so keen on needing overtime, either.
“We can do it all over again here next week, and we can adjust what we need to adjust to make sure overtime doesn’t happen again,” Harmon said. “We excel well in overtime, but it’s very nerve-wracking.”