Cars were lined up on Tuesday afternoon all across Belfast Area High School’s campus as loads of fans showed up for one of the most anticipated rivalry games of the season. Mount View of Thorndike came to challenge the host Lions and test their field hockey prowess in a head-to-head match.

In the end, the ‘Stangs took home the prize with a hard-fought, 1-0 victory in the final game of the regular season. Both Mount View, which is No. 1, and Belfast are headed back to the regional playoffs in the coming days.

It appears top-seeded Mount View (12-1) will host No. 8 Waterville (6-7), No. 3 Nokomis of Newport (11-2) will host No. 6 Belfast (7-3-3) and No. 4 Winslow (10-3) will host defending state champion and fifth-seeded Gardiner (9-3-1) when the playoffs begin.

“It’s great to play another team who works as well and is just as skilled as we are,” Mustang coach Gloria Hewett said of facing the Lions Tuesday. “It wasn’t an easy win. It could have gone either way.”

The win thrust the Mustangs (139.7929 points) back to the number one spot in the Maine Principals’ Association Heal Point Standings for Eastern Class B. Mount View was in the top spot most of the season before John Bapst of Bangor recently and briefly dethroned the Mustangs. The Crusaders will be the No. 2 squad for the playoffs and probably host No. 7 Camden Hills in the first round of the playoffs.

On Tuesday, Hayleigh Kein scored the game’s only goal with an assist from Brianna Moody.

The teams both had six shots and Belfast held an 8-7 edge in penalty corners.

With 14:51 left in the second half, Kein saw her opening and took one of her blistering shots. It was Kein’s fourth try on a corner and, after Moody’s pass, Kein drove the ball into the back of the cage.

“[Hayleigh] has a really hard, flat shot and when it’s on it’s on,” Hewett said. “They are really hard to stop because they are hard, they are flat and they are fast,”

Paxton Mohney, Julia Ward and Sierra Wood played in the cage for the Lions and that group combined to make five saves. Abbie Charrier made one save for Mount View.

Hewett said her team was a little off at the start of the game, but the Mustangs soon picked up the pace. “They played well, they played really well,” she said.

Mount View knew Belfast was not going to provide an easy game. However, Hewett said the Lions play the same as Leavitt of Turner, which delivered the ‘Stangs their only loss of the regular season. Because of that, Mount View could use the lessons they learned from that defeat and apply them to Belfast.

Hewett said both Belfast and Mount View are good at coming back from a goal scored against them. “They don’t let down for a minute,” she said of the Lions. “So we talked about psychologically not letting down. When you score, you gotta think, ‘Another one,’ not, ‘There, we are all set.’ “

Hewett noted that center back Channing Murphy played the best game of the season. She also highlighted Mercedes Reynolds for playing a strong game.

The game was bittersweet for the Lions. It was final last home game of the regular season, but BAHS coach Allen Holmes said he was glad his student-athletes played with heart against a top-ranked opponent.

“I was happy with our performance and happy for the seniors to go out on a good, solid effort, good crowd and we will move on to the tournament,” Holmes said.

He noted he is proud of his seniors and their dedication to the program. “We are very pleased with them,” he said.

Belfast had a few shots at potential goals but luck did not seem to be on the host’s side. One chance was about to go past the goal line when a whistle was called before it could cross and another hit a player’s foot when it was in the circle. “It was disheartening, but it was a good call,” said Holmes.

“We played with class, we played hard and we know what it’s like now to be in a big game, heading into a tournament,” Holmes said. “So I think everything is going to help us. So we are going to take it positively and move ahead.”

As the Mustangs eye the tournament and a run at the regional title, Hewett wants to go into that competition by reducing opponent’s corners, work on her team’s seven versus sevens in case of overtimes in the playoffs, and have the players stay in top physical condition.

“Keep playing the way the way we have been playing,” she said. “Remember why we play and how we play: because we love it.”

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.