Saint Dominic Academy field hockey players head to the stands to celebrate with their fans after defeating Spruce Mountain in the regional finals in Saco Tuesday night. From left to right are: Callie Samson, Elizabeth Perkins and Hannah Trottier-Braun. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

SACO — Barely six minutes into the Class C South field hockey final, St. Dominic Academy found itself in unfamiliar territory.

Behind — for the first time all season.

Unfamiliar, but not uncomfortable.

Less than three minutes later, the Saints tied the game and they went on to defeat Spruce Mountain 3-2 at Thornton Academy on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it brought us down, I think it just lit a fire under our butts and we realized we needed to make it happen,” St. Dom’s junior forward Paige Cote said.

The Saints advance to face Winthrop in the Class C state championship game. The Ramblers defeated Dexter 2-1 in overtime Tuesday.

The Phoenix were fast and aggressive from the start, and remained that way the full 60 minutes. Six minutes and five seconds into the game, sophomore forward Emily Castonguay scooped a shot past St. Dom’s goalkeeper Abby Slonina to give second-seeded Spruce Mountain a 1-0 lead.

“We haven’t experienced being behind in a game yet this year, we always score first,” Saints junior forward Kylie Leavitt said. “So, when that happened, we called a timeout and we knew we had to tie it up, we knew we couldn’t fall behind even further. Our coach just motivates us on the sideline, and we knew we had to do it, and we got it done.”

With 21:11 remaining in the first half, Saints junior forward Caroline Johnson snuck the ball past Spruce goalkeeper Sydney Shaffer to even the game.

“We really turned up the intensity after their first goal to get our first goal,” St. Dom’s senior forward Hannah Trottier-Braun said. “That just changed the whole momentum of the game.”

Six minutes later, junior midfielder Bailey Derocher put St. Dom’s back in its comfort zone – in the lead – with a Kylie Leavitt-assisted goal.

Neither team capitalized on its chances the remainder of the first half, and most of the second half battle was waged in the midfield.

Then, with 10 minutes to play, Cote flicked the ball high in the back of the net, giving St. Dom’s a two-goal cushion at 3-1.

“I saw that everyone was in front of the goal, so I knew that I would have to shoot it high,” Cote said

Spruce kept coming, and with 1:48 left in the game, Aurianna Armandi scored to cut the lead to 3-2.

In last year’s region final, the Saints lost a late one-goal lead to Oak Hill, and then lost the game in overtime (the Raiders went on to win the state championship).

They held on this time.

The Phoenix continued to attack, but time ran out on their season.

“It was fun,” Spruce co-coach Jane DiPompo said.

“It was a good game,” co-coach Julia Parker added. “I think it was a real good game.”

“We just fell one goal short,” DiPompo said.

The two teams hadn’t faced each other this year, but the Saints knew victory wouldn’t come easy.

“I think it was definitely one of our toughest games of the season, and we came into it knowing that it would be like that,” Cote said. “So we came into knowing that we had to leave everything out on the field, and run to every ball, shoot every shot, do anything that we could.”

Leavitt said this year’s region championship is especially sweet after last year’s heartbreak.

“It’s amazing. It’s crazy,” Leavitt said. “I can’t even explain the feeling. All year we’ve been pushing for this.

“Everyone asks us, ‘When’s the train going to stop?’ We’ve always said, ‘All the way, we’re going all the way.’”

Spruce Mountain’s Emily Castonguay, left and Saint Dominic Academy’s Avery Greco battle for the ball during Tuesday’s championship game in Saco. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)Spruce Mountain’s Jan-Nay Learned and goalie Sydney Shaffer teamed up to stop several shots on goal, but a rebound on this play was picked up by Saint Dominic Academy’s Bailey Derocher and hit home for a goal Tuesday night. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)Saint Dominic Academy’s Paige Cote fires a point blank blast at Spruce Mountain goalie Sydney Shaffer that sailed over her head an into the goal for the eventual game winning goal Tuesday night. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Saint Dominic Academy Field Hockey captains Callie Samson, left and Elizabeth Perkins hoist the Southern Maine Class C Championship plaque after defeating Spruce Mountain 3-2 in Saco Tuesday night. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Saint Dominic Academy field hockey coach, Brian Kay, watches his players carry off the Southern Maine Class C Regional Field Hockey Plaque in Saco Tuesday night after defeating Spruce Mountain 3-2. From left to right are Callie Samson, Elizabeth Perkins and Paige Cote. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)


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