HAMPDEN, Maine — One of the strengths of Dexter’s field hockey team this season has been the relative calm and mellow nature of the upperclassmen.
Then again, it has also been a weakness.
The Tigers provided evidence of both Monday afternoon in the Eastern Maine Class C championship game against Foxcroft Academy as they responded to a one-goal first-half deficit with two second-half goals to win their second straight regional title 2-1 at the Weatherbee Athletic Complex.
The 14-3 Tigers will meet unbeaten Western Maine champion North Yarmouth in a state final rematch Saturday at Yarmouth.
“This year’s team, the upperclassmen aren’t overly intense. They’re so easygoing and nice,” said Dexter head coach Margaret Veazie. “I think that’s good because it doesn’t bother them, but it’s also bad because I have to get hard on them sometimes to get them going.”
That was the case in the first half as Veazie and players alike admitted the Tigers came out nervous and even scared.
Sophomore forward Mariah Arno put the Ponies ahead with 16 minutes, 19 seconds left on a shot to the middle left of the net off a back-and-forth pass-and-shoot flurry by teammates Jen Seavey and Kelsey Boss. The scoring play was sparked by Sabrina Sharrow’s penalty corner.
“We marked their three best players, but not full field. Just when they get close to the goal, and what happened on that goal was we lost Arno on the corner,” Veazie said.
The 13-4 Ponies outplayed and outhustled the Tigers in the first half, but after Veazie delivered a stern, strongly-worded talk at halftime, Dexter had more of a Tiger in its tank.
“I don’t know what it is, but this team needs something to motivate them and it came with that goal they scored against us,” said Veazie.
Sophomore forward Whitney Mower evened the score 11:37 into the second half as her shot from about 10 feet outside the net off a clear-in from Crissy Mountain smacked the back of the goal net.
With 17:38 left, Whitney Mower scored again, this time off a shot from cousin Kirstie Mower which FA goalie Cassie Curtis deflected outward to Whitney Mower.
“The first one kind of popped up over the defenders’ sticks and I got it to hit it in,” said Mower. “The second one popped off the goalie after Kirstie hit it, so I just kind of flipped it in.”
The Tigers made the goal stand up as they reversed momentum and broke up more Ponies passes in the second half.
“We kept our sticks down more and blocked a lot more of their passes and shots,” Mower added.
That was the direct result of a slight halftime adjustment by Dexter.
“We had a really hard time getting the ball through North Yarmouth in the state game here last year on this turf with our big hitters, so we practiced for two days on turf with nothing but the small passes,” Veazie explained. “But today the big hits were going through, so we told them to go with those and we picked Whitney to hit to because she’s so fast and quick.”
Ponies sophomore forward Sabrina Sharrow said neither team had any surprises in the third meeting between the field hockey powers, who split during the regular season.
“Playing on turf is a lot different than grass and their field is a lot faster than ours, so they might have felt a bit more comfortable,” she said. “But there was nothing really new.”
Dexter sophomore goalie Maicee Gustin, who switched to field hockey after playing soccer last year, turned aside three of six shots.
“This feels amazing. I’ve never done anything like this before so it’s really great to be a part of this,” Gustin said.
Curtis finished with five saves on eight shots.