ORONO — University of Maine field hockey coach Josette Babineau had never beaten Providence College in three previous tries.
The Friars had outscored Maine 13-5 including a 4-0 triumph last season.
But the Black Bears received a first-half goal from junior midfielder Stephanie Gardiner and two second-half goals from junior forward Jocelyn Mitchell to beat the Friars 3-0 in a mutual season opener Friday.
Junior goalkeeper Brittany Fleck made eight saves in posting the shutout, including several gems.
“Maine came out very well and set the tone. They played a great game and we had some tactical errors in our pressure that got us a little flustered,” said PC coach and former Maine assistant Diane Madl.
Maine’s first two goals came off penalty corners.
“Our corners were well-executed today. We have a lot of returnees on our penalty corner unit so even though we haven’t spent a lot of time on penalty corners, they can execute,” said Babineau, the Bears’ fourth-year coach.
“Our penalty corners were huge for us,” said junior forward Kelly Newton. “And Brittany played very composed and made some key saves.”
Gardiner’s goal came just 6:47 into the game and resulted from a second consecutive penalty corner with freshman Alexa Binnendijk feeding the ball to Newton, who set it up for Maire Dineen.
On the first corner, Dineen took a shot that was saved nicely by PC goalie Shannon DiStefano.
On the next one, Dineen passed up the shot to slip the ball across to Gardiner positioned to her left and Gardiner unleashed a low blast past the helpless DiStefano.
“I generally look to shoot it to the far side but [DiStefano] was inched over to that side so I shot it short side,” said Gardiner, who explained they have several options on penalty corners and they adapt to the defensive formation.
Fleck held her ground to make a good short-side save on a one-on-one with Scarborough’s Brittany Ross and Maine senior back and tri-captain Courtney Veinotte bailed her goalie out by clearing a shot that was labeled for the far corner moments later.
PC carried the play in the opening stages of the second half but Fleck made some important saves until Mitchell extended the lead against the run of play with 22:26 remaining.
Dineen took a hard low shot off a penalty corner that DiStefano stopped with her stacked pads but the rebound deflected to Mitchell who had a half-empty cage in which to deposit it.
“Right place, right time,” said Mitchell, who added her second goal 5:23 later.
Kelly Newton intercepted a Friar free hit and fed it quickly ahead to Mitchell, who took one touch into the circle and fired it toward the far corner.
“I got my glove on it. It took a weird bounce,” said DiStefano, who had it deflect into the cage.
“Kelly laid a perfect pass off to me,” said Mitchell.
“They capitalized on their chances,” said DiStefano, who made two saves before being replaced by Kathi Weidman. “They’re a good team. They’re going to do well.”
“It was a great first game. We all played really well. We had a lot of passing connections and the communication was great,” said Veinotte, who combined with Mallory Anderson, Binnendijk and Zoe Adkins in the back to limit PC’s scoring chances.
“The defense was really composed,” said Fleck.
Each team had 10 shots at goal.