Spruce Mountain’s Emily Goding (14) battles for the ball with Oak Hill’s Alexis Faucher (3) as Spruce’s Emily Castonguay (30) looks in a Class C South field hockey quarterfinal in Jay on Wednesday night. The Phoenix won, 3-1.

JAY — Spruce Mountain and Oak Hill stalked and hounded each other for 60 minutes of nail-biting field hockey in a Class C South quarterfinal filled with high anxiety.

But the No. 2 Phoenix (11-4) had the final say with a 3-1 victory over seventh-ranked Oak Hill (7-8) on Wednesday afternoon.

Spruce Mountain moves on to face No. 6 Mountain Valley (7-7-1), which upended No. 3 Sacopee Valley, also on Wednesday.

Phoenix senior midfielder Morgan Dalton scored back-to-back goals in the second half to help end Oak Hill’s playoff run.

“Being on varsity for the past three years and going to playoffs every single year and not making it as far as we would like, I really wanted to push my team, push myself, and come out here and win,” Dalton said. “I thought we had a tremendous team effort. I thought we did really well.

“I thought Oak Hill was also very impressive and they came out and wanted to play. They do every time they come so we knew they were going to be a good team, good competition.

“I think we played really well. We passed well, worked well as a team. We definitely shared the wealth a little bit. We beat them both times, but only by one (during the regular season) so it was a very tight game and they were defending state champs from last year, so we knew they were going to come out here and want it.”

The second half featured endless confrontations in the midfield and defenses that frustrated each team.

“You’ve got talk about all the seniors,” Spruce Mountain co-coach Jane DiPompo said. “They are not ready to stop. They want to keep going. They were determined … we are just letting them go as far as they can go.

“Our links and our mids haven’t got enough credit. The front line always gets the press and the goalies get the press, but the midfield, they are your workhorse.

“The girls were not ready to let up. That’s for sure,” Spruce co-coach Julia Parker added.

After Spruce junior forward Erin McPherson punched in the only goal in the first half on a freshman Aurianna Armandi assist, the Raiders stepped up their attacks on the Phoenix’s net.

Dalton scored her first goal with 18:09 left in the game and it looked like the Phoenix were on their way to a shutout.

But Spruce’s second goal didn’t put a dent in the Raiders’ perseverance. Oak Hill responded with a goal from senior forward Maegan Sheehy, with junior midfielder Kiera Young getting the assist.

The Raiders kept pressing, but the Phoenix found their second wind and Dalton used an assist from senior forward Alexis Beardsley and scored with 33 seconds left in the game.

“They played with all heart and soul today,” Oak Hill coach Betsy Gilbert said. “They are just so resilient. Spruce Mountain – we knew we had our hands full coming in here. We already faced them twice this year and we lost by one, but it is a great battle.

“They have tremendous speed. We have nothing to hang our heads about at all. You know I am so proud of these kids. Our defense was amazing. I have a freshman – Sophie Childs – I said to her, ‘I think you had more saves than our goalie down there today. She is one of our defensive backs and she had a heckuva game.”

Oak Hill goalie Mackenzie Thibeault and Spruce netminder Sydney Shaffer turned in strong performances in net, making seven and six saves, respectively. The Phoenix held the advantage in shots, 7-6 and penalty corners, 16-6.

Oak Hill’s Adelle Surette (11) takes a swipe at the ball as Spruce Mountain junior Emily White (27) tries to intervene in a Class C South field hockey quarterfinal in Jay on Wednesday night. The Phoenix won, 3-1.

Spruce Mountain’s Avery Williams (5) and Oak Hill’s Kaylei Robichaud (7) battle for the ball in a Class C South field hockey quarterfinal in Jay on Wednesday night. The Phoenix won, 3-1.


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