Spruce Mountain’s Emily Castonguay and Dirigo’s Jayne Brody struggle for control of the ball during Friday afternoon’s field hockey game in Dixfield. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

DIXFIELD — Spruce Mountain’s offense certainly delivered, but there were also good things going on behind the scenes in Friday afternoon’s game against Dirigo.

The Phoenix’s defense was fortified by seniors Ashley Campbell and Isabelle Castonguay, who helped fluster the Cougars (7-4) in the backfield and steer Spruce (9-4) to a 3-1 victory in a Class C field hockey game.

“I wasn’t expected to be in that position today,” Castonguay said. “Normally, I play offense, but I am a very universal player so going in on defense and going in on offense, it is a challenge for each thing. 

“But I felt it was the best spot for me to go today because I had my head in the game. I knew where people were. I was really good partners and friends with the people in front of me and behind me, so just working together really helped a lot.”

Campbell said staying focused against Dirigo was crucial.

“I just kept my head in the game and focused on the ball really more than anything else,” Campbell said. “We came pretty confident because we had a big loss the last time we played them.”

The win was a total team effort for the Phoenix, who were on from the get-go and built a comfy 3-0 lead going into halftime.

“We really needed this today,” Spruce Mountain coach Katie Trask said. “The girls came out ready yesterday. They were ready to play this one. Super excited for them.

“We had a horrible game the other day and they knew they weren’t playing together. When they play their game, they are so on and they are such a great team. They all work well together and do a good job. Isabelle Castonguay had a lot of great stops for us in the backfield. We had a lot of aggressiveness in the circle.”

Dirigo’s Abby Stevens and Spruce Mountain’s Hanni Johnson attack the ball during Friday afternoon’s field hockey game in Dixfield. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Spruce’s Paris Howes connected with with junior Auriana Armandi and scored with 9:52 left in the first half.

The Phoenix kept up the pressure and hounded Cougars goalie Allie Dyke (17 saves) and scored again less than five minutes later. Emily Castonguay punched in her goal at 5:27 without assistance.

With 1:51 remaining in the first half, Hanni Johnson punched in a goal to make it a 3-0 game.

The Cougars were more impressive the second half and put a lot of pressure on the Phoenix. Dirigo’s resilience resulted in a goal. Jayce Brophy spoiled Spruce’s would-be shutout with a goal, which was assisted by Grace Timberlake with 6:10 left in the game.

“We fell apart,” Dirigo coach Gretchen Curtis said. “We didn’t step up. Spruce played hard. They have some good players.”

Spruce Mountain goalie Emily Bamford got the win in net, making two saves.

The Phoenix outshot the Cougars 17-6, but the Dirigo held the advantage in corners 6-4.

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