St. Dom’s didn’t attack the Falcons’ goal often Wednesday, but two of the team’s six shots rattled the cage behind keeper Alyssa Akers as the Saints likely locked up the No. 2 seed in Class C South with a 2-0 win over Mountain Valley.

Hannah Braun netted both goals for the Saints (9-4-1), who have rebounded well after a few tough years on the pitch.

“She scored the other day against Lisbon, which was big,” St. Dom’s coach Brian Kay said. “We have a young team, and they’re not used to that playoff mentality, yet. And that’s what it all is now, a mental game.”

Coming off a solid win against Lisbon on Monday, which avenged an opening-day loss, St. Dom’s played sluggishly early Wednesday.

“We knew we had to bring it hard today,” Braun said. “We brought it in the second half, but in the first half, we were a little slow. There were times where we were a little down on ourselves, but it all worked out in the end.”

“The Lisbon game was awesome, probably our best game of the year,” Kay said. “Coming into this one, I think we started out flat. But hey, it’s still a win.”

Mountain Valley couldn’t capitalize.

“We didn’t capitalize on the opportunities that we had,” Mountain Valley coach Melissa Forbes said.

Both teams had eight wins prior to the contest, and a Falcons victory would likely have assured them a home quarterfinal game. They finish the season against Winthrop at home Thursday, still with a shot at a top-four finish.

“Playing well, playing smart, that’s what you need to do,” Forbes said. “Anyone could win in this league if you play well. It will be very interesting to see where we all land, where we’re going.”

In a back-and-forth battle through the midfield, the Saints and Falcons slugged it out for most of the first half. St. Dom’s earned the only penalty corner of the opening frame, and didn’t score on the chance.

The Saints did score in the first half, though, when Braun batted the ball into the cage from the stroke line after an initial shot from Erin Lachance slipped through Akers’ pads from the left side.

It took another 12 minutes in the second half before Mountain Valley (8-5-0) finally earned a penalty corner. The Falcons earned four in a row at one point, and put a lot of pressure on Saints keeper Abby Slonina.

“She’s a really good goalie, and we have a really good defense, we work on that a lot in practice,” Braun said. “We knew we had to clear it, get it to the forwards and bring it up the field.”

“The defense stepped up big,” Kay said. “Moving (Rhiannon Hershey) back on defense — she had been playing mid — just to beef up the back line was key. It worked. We were a bit lucky today, but sometimes you need a little luck.”

As the minutes waned, the Saints finally put themselves back into the Falcons’ zone, and Braun netted her second of the game with 1:53 to play, clinching the win.

“If they had gotten another one, that would have tied it, and it would have been just like last time against them, and that went to overtime,” Braun said. “Overtime is very stressful, it always is. I’m glad we got that second one in. It really turned the game around.”

St. Dom’s must now wait for the Heal Points to shake themselves out to see whether it will join Dirigo in the MVC title game next week. Whether they do is almost irrelevant, though, given the team’s turnaround the past couple of years.

“We had a good team last year, but we lost games in overtime and by one goal,” Braun said. “We really stepped it up as a team this year.”


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