AUBURN — Shots and scoring chances didn’t tell whole story Tuesday. If they did, the Class C South quarterfinal field hockey game between St. Dom’s and Sacopee Valley would have been an one-sided affair for the Saints.
St. Dom’s outshot Sacopee 34-5, had a 24-4 advantage in penalty corners. But the Saints struggled to put the ball past Hawks goalie McKenize Cormier, and the seventh-seeded visitors hung around.
Ultimately, though, two second-half goals helped lift the Saints past the Hawks, 3-2, despite Cormier’s 16 saves.
In the first game of the season, the Saints defeated the Hawks by six goals, but Tuesday’s contest was far from a romp.
“We’ve changed,” Sacopee Valley coach Jaci Ritter said. “When they came to Sacopee, it was a 1-0 game, back and forth between the 25 (yard markers). It was what we were expecting today and that’s what we got. They just had that little extra edge. They went around the post and we went through the post.”
The Saints knew they had to come out strong.
“The first time we played them we didn’t know what they were going to be like,” Saints junior forward Hannah Trottier-Braun said. “The second time around it was closer in score. This time we knew coming into it, it was going to be a tough challenge. We would really have to keep up the intensity and play 110 percent all of game.”
The second-seeded Saints hit the ground running. In the first 14 minutes of the contest, they fired 11 of their 34 shots and already had eight corners. On the ninth corner, they finally found the back of the net. Elizabeth Perkins found Caroline Johnson, who put home the shot at the 13:08 mark of the opening half.
“We did shoot a lot at (Cormier),” St. Dom’s coach Brian Kay said. “We shouldn’t be, we should shooting at the low corners. All in all, it’s a win.”
The goal woke up the seventh-seeded Hawks. Ritter took a timeout shortly thereafter, and her team responded. Elizabeth Ouellette found the back of the net with 8:18 remaining in the first half.
“The girls dug deep and all I said to them was, ‘You are better than this, you need to move your feet, you need to go to the ball, you need to finish the play,'” Ritter said. “That’s what they did for the rest of the game. They got to the ball, they moved and they kept the ball on their stick. They moved the ball with purpose.”
In the second half, St. Dom’s got off to a strong start and was finally rewarded for its hard work and earned a penalty stroke. Callie Samson took the stroke and went top shelf on Cormier to give the Saints a 2-1 lead 5:08 into the half.
“I practice shooting high.” Samson said. “I play indoor (field hockey), so my coach works with me for shooting high. I practice it a lot in practice to get it right. My routine is look a different way than I am shooting. I looked top right, I shot top left.”
Again, the Hawks looked to respond a minute later, but they hit the post.
St. Dom’s stretched the lead out to 3-1 when Kylie Leavitt put home the loose ball in the crease. The assist went to Trottier-Braun at the 8:30 mark.
Sacopee Valley cut the deficit to one 25 seconds later when Ouellette scored her second goal of the game.
The Saints will host the No. 3 Traip Academy Rangers in a Class C South semifinal later this week, weather permitting. The Rangers defeated No. 6 Dirigo 2-0 on Tuesday.