Spruce Mountain’s Hanni Johnson and Mountain Valley’s Autumn Freeman eye the ball.Mountain Valley’s Faith Riddick Rylee Sevigny watches goal goes in the net in the first half.Mountain Valley’s Leigha Carrier slaps the ball as Spruce Mountain’s Emily leaps in the air to avoid the ball.Spruce Mountain goalie Melissa Bamford eyes the ball as Mountain Valley closes in on the net.Spruce Mountain junior Emily Castonguay (30) scores her first of two goals in the first half as Mountain Valley’s Keziah Hartzell (2) and goalie Nora Tag tries to intervene during a Mountain Valley Conference field hockey game at Hosmer Field in Rumford on Monday.Mountain Valley coach Melissa Forbes speaks with her team during a timeout at Hosmer Field in Rumford on Monday.
RUMFORD — Those of you who took a deep breath at the beginning of this Mountain Valley Conference field hockey game probably didn’t exhale until the final buzzer sounded Monday.
You were watching two talented teams — Mountain Valley and Spruce Mountain (5-0) — battling it out at chilly Hosmer Field, but it was the undefeated Phoenix who survived this on-the-edge-your-seat confrontation to come away with a 3-2 victory.
“(Mountain Valley) is awesome,” Spruce Mountain coach Jane DiPompo said. “What great hits with good sticks, and their footwork is awesome. You can’t take anything away from them.
“This is big for us. The only thing we had was numbers, depth and speed. Our game plan was to keep them moving. I am happy. They are a good team. We are going to see them again,” she said. My defense stepped up.They were awesome.They didn’t get down when they got a couple of goals against them. And my goalie! Did you see my goalie!”
Spruce Mountain freshman goalie Melissa Bamford was under siege for most of the afternoon, but stood her ground and made 13 saves.
There were heroics galore on both sides of the field, but it certainly helped that junior Emily Castonguay scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner to help hand Spruce Mountain its fifth consecutive victory.
Castonguay appeared nonchalant about her two goals, but her humility was admirable.
“They (Falcons) were intense; they were quick,” she said. “We knew it would be a tough game, but we just had to stay focused
Was she surprised that she scored two key goals?
“You can only hope,” Castonguay said. “It feels good, it feels good. My teammates worked well together.”
After nine minutes of back-and-forth volleys, the Falcons (4-1) scored first with 21:23 left in the first half. The Sevigny sisters teamed up on this goal, with Rylee scoring, with Avery helping out sis with an assist.
Mountain Valley’s 1-0 lead didn’t last long. Avery Williams used an Emily Castonguay assist and scored with 17:26 left in the first half to tie the game.
For the next 15 minutes, each team took turns hammering each others’ net before Williams and Emily Castonguay switched places, with Castonguay scoring her first of two goals and Williams picking up the assist.
The Phoenix headed to halftime with a 2-1 lead, knowing that it was not enough to shelve the unrelenting Falcons.
Spruce Mountain struck fast in the second half, scoring at 28:11 and taking what looked like a comfortable 3-1 lead. Emily Castonguay did the honors with her second goal, with Emily White being credited with the assist.
Mountain Valley proved its point that it meant business. Rylee Sevigny scored unassisted with 19:14 left in the game and cutting the Phoenix’s lead to one goal.
“Last year, we had only two subs on the bench and we graduated only two kids,” Mountain Valley coach Melissa Forbes said. “I am extremely proud and we outshot them. We had our chances.
“This is the game we needed,” she added. “We needed the challenge and I thought second half, they stepped up the game. The goalie stepped up the game — a freshman goalie — which was good for them. I liked what I saw.
“This is better than last year. We had 13 total. We are 19 total this year. We’ve got a lot of freshmen.”
For two heart-stopping moments, each team traded volleys in front of the nets, but Spruce Mountain held on to a 3-2 victory despite Mountain Valley’s heroic but futile efforts.
“They are aggressive, absolutely aggressive, right from the whole game,” Forbes said. “I wasn’t watching how many subs they put in. Yeah, they kept the game moving fast.”