The Belfast field hockey team did not have trouble scoring goals through the first 13 games of its season, tallying an average of 3.5 goals per contest during that span.

However, the Lions suddenly had gone scoreless through their last two games in their lone regular-season loss to Mount View of Thorndike and then a shutout loss in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B title game against Nokomis of Newport.

That drought continued through much of the team’s exciting Eastern Class B quarterfinal playoff game against Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft Tuesday afternoon, as neither the No. 3 Lions nor No. 6 Ponies could capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes through two 30-minute halves or two eight-minute overtimes.

Then, in the blink of an eye, as Belfast was lining up to take its 20th penalty corner of the day — which had quickly turned into evening — the hosts finally broke through the Ponies’ defense.

Maddy Cummings scored to break the long Lion scoring drought and the Belfast defense came up big in its final penalty corner test to knock the Ponies from the playoffs with a thrilling 1-0 victory.

Belfast (11-1-3) plays at No. 2 John Bapst of Bangor (13-2), which beat No. 7 Gardiner (7-5-3) 4-2 in Tuesday’s other regional quarterfinal playoff game, in the semifinals on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 1 p.m. at the University of Maine in Orono. The Lions do not play the Crusaders during the regular season.

Foxcroft Academy’s season ended at 11-4. The Ponies are new to Class B this season after clinching the Eastern Class C title last year and falling to eventual state champion North Yarmouth Academy.

BAHS coach Allen Holmes, now in his 39th year guiding the Lions, has seen many games such as Tuesday’s play out in his favor. In fact, the veteran coach recalled a quarterfinal game against Foxcroft Academy in the late 1980s where the Lions defeated the Ponies after 33 sets of penalty corners.

Needless to say, Holmes’ teams are prepared for all scenarios.

“We practiced for [the possibility of overtime Monday] night,” he said. “We went over the overtimes and my rotation was all set.”

Goalie Julia Ward turned away five shots for Belfast and made an unprecedented number of clutch stops during the 20 Foxcroft Academy penalty corner attempts to give the Lions a chance to put the game away, which Cummings eventually did after nearly three grueling hours of play.

On the decisive goal, Savana Wood originally inserted the ball for the Lions and the ball bounded out of play, allowing the hosts to take the ball out on the sideline. Katrina Lapham then got the ball into Cummings and, after a little give-and-go and a scrum in front of the net, Cummings flicked the ball past Foxcroft Academy keeper Cassie Curtis for what proved the game-winner.

“I told Maddy [during a timeout] before she scored, ‘Just try a push because your flicks are going up into her,'” said Holmes. “Just keep it on the ground it will be harder to see. But it went in on a flick, so we’ll take it.”

It was a big goal for Cummings, who was a freshman on last year’s team that lost 2-1 in overtime to the eventual state champion Nokomis Warriors in overtime in the quarterfinals.

“I’m so excited,” Cummings said. “Last year we lost our first game in the playoffs and we’ve done so well this season. I just want to go and win our first [playoff] game, and hopefully go win the whole thing.”

Curtis made five saves for Foxcroft Academy through both halves and overtimes. The Lions also outshot the Ponies 9-7 and held a 9-5 lead in penalty corners before overtime.

Holmes said, in reference to his team’s scoring drought, that the Lions had “been putting the ball in front [of the goal], we just haven’t finished as well.” However, he felt his team moved as well against the Ponies Tuesday as it had all season and feels his squad is confident heading into the next round.

“This was a good win and we knew it was going to be tough, but we got a break,” he said. “We dodged a couple [bullets] and we were denied a couple times and I told them to keep pressing, keep playing good Belfast hockey, look for your teammates, support each other and good things will happen.”

And they did.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.