DIXFIELD — Thursday’s Western Class C field hockey quarterfinal at Harlow Park was all about circles.

When host Dirigo gathered in its halftime circle, coach Gretchen Errington made it clear that if the Cougars didn’t cash in more of their opportunities in the scoring circle, they could forget about the Saturday game that probably was already circled on their calendars.

No. 4 Dirigo responded by running rings around No. 5 Traip, scoring four unanswered goals to seal a 5-2 victory.

Ellie Wainwright and Brittany LaPointe each scored two goals for Dirigo (8-6-1), which advanced to the semis for the second straight year. The Cougars will travel to top-seeded and defending state champion Lisbon.

“My freshman year, we only beat two teams. Last year we made it to the semifinals,” Wainwright said. “There’s definitely a shift in that we’re able to score. Our defense has been great, and now we’re starting to put it all together.

Dirigo won for the eighth time in 11 games after an 0-4 start. This was only the second performance in that run in which the Cougars scored more than four goals.

They needed the scoring surge after Kaylie Andrews and Ashleigh Roberts each connected in the final nine minutes for Traip (8-5-2) to give the Rangers a 2-1 halftime lead.

Wainwright, a junior, sandwiched a goal between those two for Dirigo, but the Cougars had other shots trickle just wide of the cage and were unable to capitalize on a a flood of offensive opportunities.

“We’ve been working all week on the circle,” Errington said. “The first half wasn’t as good, so at halftime I said, ‘What have we been working on all week?’ I told them, ‘This is it. Turn it around or you’re done. It’s up to you guys now, really.'”

Ten seniors and seven juniors strong, Dirigo already was aware of that. The Cougars also knew they no longer had the luxury of using an early Traip goal as a wakeup call the way they did in the first half.

“When they first scored, we took advantage of that momentum. We just had to get back,” Wainwright said. “We knew that we needed to pump it up the second half and come out and score, and we did that.”

Dirigo needed only 92 seconds to land the equalizer. LaPointe stuffed home a pass from Brooke Holmquist to punctuate a two-on-one rush.

Sweeper Britney Ellis provided a huge breakup on the second of back-to-back Traip corners to prevent the Rangers from reclaiming the lead.

Wainwright chalked up the game-winner on Dirigo’s next foray downfield, set up by sophomore Emma Lueders for the second time.

“They know what they’re going for now. We went against Waynflete last year and they didn’t really know what to think. ‘Oh, yay, we made it to the playoffs!’ And they won and were shocked to win, so today they were not losing,” Errington said. “There was no way. They were so focused.”

Everything the Cougars touched turned to gold — OK, goals — after they grabbed the lead.

Kelsey Wilson deflected in a bid by Wainwright off a corner with 11 minutes to go. LaPointe later landed her second of the day after Traip goalie Taylor Kashmer turned away Wilson’s initial shot.

Traip showed no effects of the interminable bus ride from Kittery early on.

Andrews put the Rangers in front with 8:31 left in the first half, cleaning up the rebound after Kelsey Hutchins made a terrific defensive save in front of goalie Amanda Dolloff.

Wainwright and Lueders’ first collaboration tied it, but Roberts tipped in Andrews’ goalmouth pass for the halftime cushion.

“The whole first half we dominated, dominated, dominated, and they scored on us,” Errington said. “I was like, guys, that can’t happen. I didn’t know any of their players. We just said play your positions, cut to the ball, do what you need to do.”

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