Spruce Mountain’s Ashley Campbell (22) and Dirigo’s Hailey Hackett (13) battle for the ball during a Class C North field hockey quarterfinal in Dixfield on Tuesday. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal

DIXFIELD — When the going got grueling, the Dirigo Cougars turned to their go-to player.

Kailey Hackett not only scored the tying goal to send Tuesday’s Class C North field hockey quarterfinal into double overtime, but she also scored the game-winner, lifting the fourth-seeded Cougars to a hard-fought 3-2 victory over fifth-seeded Spruce Mountain.

Dirigo (10-5) moves on to the semifinals where they will face top-seeded Foxcroft Academy (15-0) on Saturday.

Hackett’s fast moves on the breakaway certainly kept the Phoenix (10-5) on their toes.

“I worked really hard over the season to practice that,” Hackett, a junior forward, said. “That is what I am trying to focus on right now.

Hackett pointed out that the team’s enthusiasm was crucial in the second overtime.

“(It was) the energy of the team,” Hackett said. “That’s what really brings us together, and our passing worked out and everyone just wanted it. We don’t want our season to end because we have the potential to go places.

“Spruce is a really good team. They were our competition today.”

Spruce Mountain goalie Alicia Bridges blocks a shot by Dirigo’s Hailey Hackett (13) as Spruce’s Karissa Ritter (16) and Dirigo’s Taylor Bryant look on during a Class C North field hockey quarterfinal in Dixfield on Tuesday. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal

Tuesday’s game was another nail-biter for Dirigo coach Gretchen Curtis.

“We have lost quite a few games at the last second and in the last minutes of the game,” Curtis said. “That last timeout I just said to them, ’You guys, why did we lose all those games? We need to learn a lesson every time we lose. What did we learn?’ They said, ‘We don’t give up.’

“So they went out there and did it. They don’t give up.”

Of course, Curtis was proud of Hackett’s two-goal performance.

“She should be player of the year — hands down,” Curtis said. “She is skilled. She is also selfless. She is aggressive. She never gives up.”

Darkness and the Cougars were closing in on the Phoenix. Anytime there was open field, Hackett was around to take the ball toward the Spruce Mountain net.

With 4:29 left in the second overtime, Hackett went solo and slipped the winning goal past Spruce keeper Alicia Bridges (six saves), who constantly frustrated the Cougars with several key stops.

“She has worked hard this season,” Spruce Mountain coach Katie Trask said. “She has put a lot of effort in. She is a junior and she actually moved to Spruce this year. So she has really worked to get herself in there. I wanted to put her in there and show her that her efforts paid off.”

Both teams did their fair share of trading shots before Hackett settled the matter with her second goal.

It appeared the Phoenix were well on their way to a 2-1 victory after Auriana Armandi’s unassisted goal broke a 1-1 tie with 21:09 to play in the second half. For the next 16 minutes, the lead held.

But the Cougars turned up the pressure, and their efforts paid off when Hackett scored unassisted and tied the game at 2-2 with five minutes left.

The first half was a game of one-upmanship, with both teams relentlessly pressuring each other.

The Cougars struck first when Morgan Woods scored on a Hackett assist at 12:56. Not to be outdone, the feisty Phoenix tied the game at 3:09 when Mariyah Fournier scored, unassisted to change the look and feel of the game.

“I have absolutely no complaints,” Trask said. “The girls were amazing. They played their game. They did what they needed to do. Unfortunately, they just came up short. I am just really proud of them.”


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