Saturday, it was a finger. After other games this season, bags of ice covered Hartford’s shins, ankles or arms.

“It’s definitely really stressful, being back there, being behind the goalie with the ball just bouncing around everywhere,” Hartford said.

Behind the goalie? Yep.

Given a field hockey goalie’s copious padding, awkward gait and inability to cover the ball by rule, most teams will assign a player or rotation of players to patrol the goal line alongside — or behind — the keeper. Hartford, Chantel Eells, Alexandra Belaire, Kaitlyn DeBlois, Alivia Bubier and Sam Martineau are those on the Leavitt squad most likely to shift into that fail-safe position.

Saturday, each of them helped preserve a 1-0 victory over Spruce Mountain alongside goalie Hailey DeMascio. The keeper made six saves, the defenders four.

“We just pull together really well,” Eells said. “We’re all really good friends, so that helps, too. Last year, when Spruce played here and they beat us, we were watching the goals over, and it was the same thing: We never had someone behind Hailey. So to make sure people were rotating behind was something really big.”

The thought of living in the defensive goal mouth is not for the faint of heart.

“It’s just scary sometimes, stressful,” Hartford said again.

Stressful, but rewarding.

“Once you clear it, though, it’s a really good feeling,” she said.

DeMascio and the Hornets defenders allowed just 11 goals in 14 games this season, and they’ve pitched a pair of shutouts in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the Class B South playoffs — a 2-0 win over No. 3 Fryeburg and Saturday’s 1-0 squeaker over No. 7 Spruce Mountain. That ran DeMascio’s shutout total on the year to eight, or 50 percent of the team’s 16 total games.

“Our team, we’re used to playing defensively,” Hartford said. “It’s sometimes hard for us to get the ball up on offense, so our defense is really important. When we do get the ball through, that’s when we score, but it all starts on defense.”

“Our defense has been rock steady all year,” Leavitt coach Wanda Ward-MacLean said. “That’s what’s kept us in games all year long. Chantel and Kaitlyn (DeBlois) and Alana and Alivia (Bubier), Sam Martineau has really stepped up … Moving Kierstin (Leclerc) back to that third row, that’s just solidified everything. Rock steady.”

Leavitt (11-5-0) will need to continue that solid defensive play if it hopes to return to its first state final since 2012. The Hornets face the unbeaten York Wildcats (16-0-0) in the Class B South final on Tuesday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. York scored 68 goals in 14 regular-season games and has nine more in two playoff outings, including a tight, 2-1 win over rival Kennebunk in the semifinal round.

“Our team has come such a long way this year,” Hartford said. “We work really hard together and we come together as a team well.

“We’re going to have to be ready,” she added. “It’s going to be tough, but we can do it.”


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