GRAY — Hayley Bright set herself on the goal line, where she stood crouched, hands outstretched to her side, and waited.

The ball came, airborne, and she swatted it away with her left hand. As her North Yarmouth Academy teammates ran the other way down the field hockey pitch, Bright yelled after them.

“I don’t want to go through that again, ladies, keep up the pressure,” she said.

There wasn’t much time left to kill, but the Panthers obliged. Bright made five saves on the five shots she faced — all in the final three minutes of the game — and Kylie Dalbec led a deliberate offensive attack with a pair of goals to lift NYA to a 3-0 win over Gray-New Gloucester.

“I can’t really put my finger on what switch got turned on,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Deb Downing said of her squads last-ditch effort. “They really wanted to score today.”

The Patriots (7-6) did rattle the back of the cage on the sequence, but the goal was called back as officials judged the ball to have hit a defender’s foot prior to the ball crossing the goal line. Rules dictate the play is dead, and the offensive team is awarded a penalty stroke, on which Gray-New Gloucester was unsuccessful, thanks to Bright’s save.

On the other end, it was nifty passing and smart hockey ruling the day for the Panthers (13-0). For the first 56 minutes of the game, the team’s best defense was a good offense. They had fired 17 shots and earned 11 penalty corners to none for the Patriots.

“The girls have gone to camps together, learned to do the reverse sweep back to each other, learned to reverse fields,” NYA coach Julia Sterling said. “It’s a little easier on the turf field back at home, but even on the grass today they did really well. It’s fun to watch them.”

Dalbec’s second goal, the lone tally in the second half, was also a great teaching tool for both teams. The Panthers missed on a penalty corner opportunity and the Patriots cleared the ball to the right side of the cage. Likely due to the wet conditions, the ball stopped rolling on the end line, but it did not cross it. Players all looked to the officials, and Dalbec even started to pick the ball up to bring it to the sideline for a long hit, but there was no whistle.

Dalbec stopped, set the ball up for herself three feet closer to the cage and whacked it past Gray-NG keeper Megan Trafford.

“You have to play to the whistle,” Downing said. “It was a bit confusing as to what happened, but I guess it just teaches the point even more.”

Dalbec’s first of the game started the Panthers off well. She completed a nice passing play just 31 seconds into the game. Katherine Millett made it 2-0 NYA with 6:50 to play in the opening half.

NYA closes out its season at Traip this week, while Gray-New Gloucester will travel to Old Orchard Beach, a team against which the Patriots earned an overtime win earlier this season.


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