Lions push past Warriors, onto semifinals in stick playSanderson scores pair of goals, Bruns another for No. 3 Belfast in quarterfinals
Belfast — Belfast field hockey coach Jan Holmes-Jackson said it was imperative for her third-ranked Lions to score quickly in their Class B North quarterfinal playoff encounter against No. 6 Nokomis of Newport to set the tone against the upset-minded Warriors.
And the Lions heeded the words of their veteran coach.
The hosts pumped in their first goal of the game a mere 146 seconds into the game and never trailed as the Lions roared to a 3-1 victory.
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With the win, the Lions (14-1) advance to the semifinals, where they will now host No. 7 Winslow (9-6-1) on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 11 a.m. at Hampden Academy.
The semifinal game originally was scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21 at 3 p.m. in Belfast, but was moved due to the forecast of inclement weather.
The Black Raiders, who dispatched of No. 10 Morse of Bath in the prelim round, pulled a stunning 4-3 upset of No. 2 Gardiner (13-2) in penalty corners in another Tuesday quarterfinal.
Belfast beat Winslow 4-0 during a regular-season game, but lost to Gardiner 1-0. The Lions also beat Nokomis 2-1 during the campaign.
On Tuesday, Belfast got a pair of goals from Hannah Sanderson and a third from Lindsay Bruns, while Kylie Nelson logged two assists and Amy Gaiero and Cassie Jackson each one in the postseason victory.
Allison Greene scored the lone goal for Nokomis, off an assist from Olivia Brown.
Belfast held a 1-0 lead at halftime.
“We knew we needed to score first and we came out and did that,” said Holmes-Jackson. “We’re working hard not to fall onto our defense too much because they’re very aggressive and they like to just crank the ball. We tried to work our passing game and I think we did that.”
The Lions held a 19-14 edge in shots, while both teams attempted eight penalty corners. Morgan Fernald made nine saves in the cage for the hosts and Chelsea Crockett eight saves in goal for the visitors.
Nelson, one of the league's top goal scorers, was embroiled in a tough matchup with Warrior defender Emily Newman and both were issued yellow cards during the game.
Holmes-Jackson said that Kelsey Mehuren “had some beautiful aerials” throughout the contest.
Belfast quickly got on the board with 27:34 left in the first half when Sanderson cleaned up a rebound off a shot from Gaiero as the rest of the half was relatively quiet in terms of goals scored.
The Warriors then knotted the game with 25:36 left in regulation and took advantage of a play when Fernald was knocked to the ground.
While the hosts were anticipating a call, the visitors went on the offensive as Brown fed Greene to tie the score 1-1.
Sanderson scored what proved the game-winner with 14:00 remaining as she popped in a rebound off a shot from Nelson.
The hosts added an insurance goal with 6:07 remaining when Nelson made a nice flat pass to Bruns, who knocked it in near the right post to round out the scoring.
Now the Lions will prepare for the Black Raiders in a rematch of the season-opener between the squads, which saw Belfast post a 4-0 road win on Sept. 1.
It was a tough end to the season for Gardiner. The Tigers won their first 13 games before losing their finale to Waterville and to Winslow in the quarterfinal round of the regional playoffs.
“We’re extremely happy to be hosting and not traveling to Gardiner,” Holmes-Jackson said. “We know Winslow is obviously going to be much tougher than when we saw them the first game and we know that going in, but I feel like we’re also a better team. We’re certainly not looking by them, but we’re definitely excited to be hosting.”
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.
Mark loves the Boston Red Sox, iced coffee, cargo shorts, Foo Fighters and time with friends and loved ones.
He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.
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