RUMFORD — What with the fly-by-night nature of high school sports scheduling this fall, Dirigo and Mountain Valley each made two trips along Route 2 to confront their rival. After the first three meetings, two in Dixfield, the Cougars and Falcons each had a win and a tie, which made Tuesday’s unseasonably warm season finale at Hosmer Field the somewhat historic rubber match.

The Cougars earned the bragging right by flawlessly executing on their first three penalty corners in the first quarter to get the offense going, then buckling down defensively in the second half to pull away for a 7-4 win.

“I think we realized we really wanted it,” Dirigo senior goalie Allie Dyke said. “This was our last game of the season, and we didn’t know we were even going to make it this far.”

Taylor Bryant scored four goals for the Cougars. Mountain Valley senior Rylee Sevigny scored three goals and assisted freshman Brielle Flynn on the Falcons’ other goal.

After the Falcons rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie it on Flynn’s goal midway through the third quarter, Bryant scored Dirigo’s first goal that didn’t result from a corner with 3:28 to go in the period. It also finally gave the Cougars a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Lizzie White and Alexa Perrault added goals for the Cougars.

The Falcons controlled the ball for much of the first half but the Cougars were more opportunistic.

Kailey Hackett, who scored the game-winner in the 2-1 nail-biter the Cougars won at home last week, got them on the board on their first corner 2:48 into the game. Bryant followed that up a little more than four minutes later on their second corner opportunity with a hard shot from just inside the top of the circle that rolled up and over Falcons goalie Nora Tag.

“We did not do well on corners the last time we played them,” Dirigo coach Gretchen Curtis said. “We didn’t score off of one. We’ve worked on it every day in practice and the girls listened. They played their positions.”

“We were passing a lot and talking a lot more,” Bryant said.

Sevigny beat Dyke with a hard shot to her left to cut the deficit in half with 2:11 to go in the period. But Dirigo was awarded its third corner after the clock expired and Bryant was there to punch it home for a 3-1 lead at the end of the first.

Tag hobbled off the field after the goal, and was replaced by backup Brooke Brown. The Falcons’ offense was their best defense for the remainder of the half, though. Sevigny made it a one-goal game, again, 1:27 into the second quarter, then rewarded her team for making its first stop on a Cougars corner by scoring on the counter attack to tie it at 3-3 with 5:04 to go in the half.

The Cougars capitalized on yet another penalty corner a little over a minute into the third quarter to retake the lead, 4-3, before Flynn slammed home the Falcons’ final equalizer.

Mountain Valley held a 10-6 advantage in corners overall, but Dyke and Dirigo’s defense, led by Page Lueders, Abby Stevens and Perrault, shut it out for the final 21 minutes.

“My defenders are awesome,” Curtis said. “They communicate great. They do an awesome job.”

Mountain Valley coach Melissa Forbes was equal parts proud and relieved that her team kept battling back.

“We have two starters not here today, so we kind of rearranged things at the last minute,” she said. “The (required) masks are new. Then my varsity goalie gets hurt and a freshman goalie goes in. But I thought they played well with all of the changes.”

“And it snowed early last week so we couldn’t have practice,” Forbes added. “But at least we got to play.”

Forbes feels fortunate that her young team gained what experience it could in the truncated season. Limited to Oxford County for opponents, the Falcons didn’t have many options to start. Aside from the quartet of games with the Cougars, Mountain Valley cobbled out a schedule that included Telstar twice, Sacopee Valley once and Oxford Hills’ junior varsity.

“I think it’s been good for them, but I just want them all now to be smart and safe,” she said.

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