DIXFIELD — Jayce Brophy decided to take over the game in the fourth quarter.

The Dirigo junior, who coach head coach Gretchen Curtis says is the team’s best playmaker, scored the game-winning goal to lead the No. 3 Cougars to a 2-1 win over No. 6 Piscataquis in a Class C North field hockey quarterfinal Wednesday at Harlow Park.

“We were struggling to get past their defense; I was thinking we have to get (the ball) up (the field) one way, we have to pick it up,” Brophy said.

With the game tied at 1-1, Brophy made a run to the circle for Dirigo, and Pirates goalie Addyson Beckwith came out to challenge her and restricted Brophy from making a play in the circle. The refs awarded a penalty stroke to Brophy, who then fired the ball to the top corner to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead with 8:32 to play in the fourth quarter.

Dirigo (11-2-2) practices penalty strokes during practice, and it was the second time the team converted this season.

“Jayce has the ability to (put the ball) in either corner,” Curtis said. “She picks one and drives it in.”

Later in the fourth quarter, Brophy was patrolling the field and made a hustle play at the offensive end line to keep the ball in play. Curtis said Brophy is full-go the entire time on the field.

“She doesn’t give up; that’s exactly how she practices and how she plays all the time,” Curtis said.

After the Pirates (8-7-1) took a 1-0 lead in the third quarter, the Pirates couldn’t get much offense going in the fourth quarter.

“Dirigo got aggressive (being down 1-0), and they wanted it,” Piscataquis coach Emily Wilson said. “My girls were on their heels a little bit. It’s hard to make adjustments because we don’t have timeouts anymore. When you see something, you have to wait 10 or 15 minutes to talk about it. You have to trust the girls out there.”

In the first half, the teams mostly battled between the 25-yard lines. The Pirates had one corner in the first half and put two shots on Cougars goalie Alivia Ellis, who stopped both.

Dirigo had one shot on goal in the first quarter.

“I didn’t know what to expect; we don’t play a lot of teams (in Central Maine), so honestly, we didn’t know what to expect,” Wilson said. “Even with COVID, you look at schedules, you don’t know what teams played full-strength and what games (teams were missing players). It was a tough year to have any idea of what to expect.”

Piscataquis’ best opportunity in the first half came early in the second quarter when the forwards closed on Ellis and fired two point-blank shots, but Ellis stopped the initial shot and the rebound.

The Cougars’ first penalty corner of the game came with about six minutes remaining in the second quarter, but a shot went wide.

In the final two minutes of the half, Dirigo put pressure on the Pirates and had a shot at the end of the quarter, but Beckwith made the stop for Piscataquis at the buzzer.

Early in the third quarter, Fabienne Nowak scored the game’s first goal. She was in the middle of the circle and Martina Hill made a pass to Nowak, who put the ball home.

Nowak is a foreign exchange student from Germany and has never played field hockey before this season.

“We started really simple (with her); we’d say do this one thing, do it and when she figured out that, we said do this second thing,” Wilson said. “We kept adding (responsibilities) as she figured it out, but she’s athletic and has good instincts. She picked it up quick.”

Shortly thereafter, the Cougars had their third corner of the game and as players were fighting for the ball in the circle Dirigo junior midfielder Grace Robbins tied the game at 1-1.

“They have their positions they have to get to (off a penalty corner), and they have to get a stick on it,” Curtis said. “She just tapped it in, and it was open on the corner, and she got her stick on it.”

Dirigo kept the ball on its offensive field for the remainder of the quarter, including for more corners, but couldn’t convert.


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