DIXFIELD — Dirigo and Spruce Mountain faced off in a fierce battle Friday afternoon in a Mountain Valley Conference field hockey game, and with no winner decided in regulation, it was off to overtime.
In the extra session, the Phoenix used the open space of the 7-on-7 format to their advantage. Sophomore Emily Castonguay scored on a crossing pass by Ashlyn Williams with 5:12 remaining as Spruce Mountain escaped with a 2-1 triumph and a season sweep over Dirigo at Harlow Park on Friday.
There is not a great deal of difference between the two teams. Dirigo (6-4) and Spruce Mountain (6-4) were ranked second and fourth, respectively, in the Class C South Heal points entering the contest. Spruce Mountain was hoping for a spark following a tough loss to Winthrop on Wednesday, and took full advantage to leapfrog the Cougars.
“It was quite a game played by both teams,” Spruce Mountain co-coach Julia Parker said. “We wanted to the ball outside against Dirigo and that strategy continued in overtime. They are strong up the middle, so we needed to get the ball out on the wings.”
That plan worked well for Castonguay, who used her speed to reach the offensive circle and a penalty corner was awarded. The Phoenix dribbled in from the 25-yard line and Williams passed to the left.
“We actually thought it had gone in. But, then the ball went back over again,” Parker said.
Castonguay alertly stepped forward and redirected the ball past Dirigo goalie Morgan Morrow, who had tried rotating across the crease in to the far right corner.
Dirigo had regained the momentum and tied the score 1-1, with 6:49 remaining in the first half. Kailey Hackett grabbed a centering pass from Ashley Perreault and hit a low shot inside the right post past Spruce Mountain goalie Sydney Shaffer. Cougars freshman Page Lueders had started the onslaught by rushing down the right side.
“Spruce Mountain is a very good passing team and use their speed to get space,” Dirigo coach Gretchen Curtis said. “We were not getting forward to (challenge) them, but instead we was backing up behind (the play). I played three freshmen and four sophomores, so we are young and Spruce have nine seniors on roster.”
Spruce Mountain was on the offensive and earned 11 of its 15 penalty corners in the first half and had 19 shots in the game. This put Cougars defenders Ashley Walker, Alexa Varnum, Devon Fletcher and Alexza Perreault back on their heels, but they held steady.
The Phoenix drew first blood when Brooke Buote blasted a shot past Morrow. Castonguay had taken the initial shot, with 13:06 left in the first half.
“Gretchen (Curtis) had done a good job with her girl’s and it shows that she really cares about them,” Spruce Mountain co-coach Jane DiPompo said. “In the past, on any given day any (team) can beat another in the Mountain Valley Conference, and that still holds true today.”
Spruce Mountain had a chance to decide things when a penalty corner was called at the end of regulation. Following a timeout, Alexis Beardsley’s open shot was cleared out by Varnum.