DIXFIELD — The Dirigo fans lined the sideline and filled the bleachers on Monday night as the Cougars hosted neighboring Mountain Valley in an MVC field hockey clash. 

It proved to be an advantage early, and Kathryn Callendar scored just over four minutes into the game for the Cougars in front of the loud crowd to give Dirigo a 1-0 victory. 

“I felt that the Mountain Valley kids didn’t adjust in the first half to this field and just this situation,” Mountain Valley head coach Melissa Forbes said. “They’re rivals, that is always the first 15 minutes. Then to get them to settle down, it’s a big field, then the fans, I think that was a lot of it.”

With 10:30 left to play in the first quarter, Dirigo’s Jayce Brophy received a pass off a corner and crossed a pass Callendar on the far left post, where she knocked in the game’s only goal. The score was a huge boost of confidence for the Cougars. 

“I have so much faith in our corners, we really work as a team,” Dirigo’s Alyvia Perreault said. “We normally score off our corners, so once we scored that goal we were kind of like, ‘Yeah, we can do this.’ It gave us a little more to keep working.”

“It gave us the confidence we needed to get going. Their transitions were quick and they’re quick,” Dirigo coach Gretchen Curtis added. 

After the goal, Dirigo (9-2-2) kept applying the pressure on Mountain Valley (9-2-1), attacking relentlessly and not letting the Falcons get into the final third of the field. Autumn Freeman and Lauren Pepin attempted to generate offense but the Falcons struggled to set up an attack in the first quarter. 

“(Freeman) is super aggressive and last game she was just on us,” Curtis said. “She’s a great athlete and we came in knowing that. We had to step it up and she kept us on our toes the whole game. When she is on the field there is no taking time off and we knew that.”

Mountain Valley earned back-to-back penalty corners with 12 minutes left in the first half, the first one leading to two shots on goal, the team’s first two of the game, while the second led to offense in front of the net but not resulting in any shots. 

Dirigo found its offense for the middle part of the second quarter and Emily Woods was at the middle of a lot of the offense for the Cougars. With just under three minutes left in the first half, Woods brought the ball from her own end to inside the penalty box of Mountain Valley but the Cougars were unable to find a second goal. 

In the second half, the Falcons played better, according to Forbes. 

“Once they settled down they got better,” Forbes said. “…We talked (at halftime) about how we were getting beat to the ball. Sometimes you play teams and can run behind the ball, it goes through and you’re on a fast break but this is Dirigo and the ball doesn’t get through Dirigo. If you want the ball, you need to run back and get it. Sometimes you play teams you don’t have to do that, so we had to adjust to a fast and quick team.”

Freeman was attacking the Dirigo midfield and into the defense, as well as Mallorie Bourret and Taylor Duguay. 

“I thought Autumn, in the second half, played much better,” Forbes said. “I thought Lauren Pepin played well in the defense, Ella Young got better defensively and in the second half I saw a lot of my girls getting better. It was a team effort.”

While Mountain Valley had some more possession in the second half, Dirigo continued to stave off every attack the Falcons made. Curtis loved what she saw from her defense. 

“Kallie Errington, nothing went by her tonight, she was awesome at mid-fullback,” Curtis said. “Everybody played their position tonight, they all did what they were supposed to do.”

“We had the plan to double the ball and we are really good at doubling, so we knew as long as we kept the pressure on the ball and stayed low it was just run and gun for them, so if we stayed low we could stop their scoring,” Perreault added. “We have watched so many of their games and have played them so much that we know that they’re going to get the ball and drive it down field, so we got as low as we could and tried to stop it.”

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