ORONO — When two high-quality teams square off, the outcome can sometimes be dictated by an exemplary individual performance.
That was the case Monday at the University of Maine field. Sophomore forward Elise Tilton scored three times in the second half to rally Class B John Bapst of Bangor past defending Class C state champ Dexter 3-1 in an entertaining, well-played game.
“It’s exciting,” said Tilton, who has seven goals and six assists for the 5-0 Crusaders. “We stepped up our game in the second half. We knew we had outplayed them in the first half but we didn’t capitalize.”
Sophomore Darci Perkins had staked the Tigers to a 1-0 lead with 8:59 remaining in the first half. It was the first goal allowed by the Crusaders, who entered the game having outscored their opponents 14-0.
But Tilton equalized off a penalty corner 4:21 into the second half, provided the game-winner with 10:24 remaining and added an insurance goal with a scintillating individual effort 5:10 later.
“They have someone who knows how to score goals and that’s a huge advantage,” said Dexter coach Margaret Veazie.
Tilton’s tying goal was set up by Brianne Robertson off a Marissa Rublee penalty corner.
“[Robertson and I] had a little give-and-go and I put it near post,” said Tilton, who fired it past helpless Dexter goalie Maicee Gustin.
“The ball deflected off someone’s stick and went from one side to the other side. It’s kind of hard to jump over there. My foot was just two centimeters from the ball,” said Gustin.
Christina Long set up the game-winner as she had the ball along the left flank before slipping it across to Tilton in the circle.
“Christina made a nice play on the left side and got it over to me. I put it to the goalie’s left,” said Tilton.
Her clincher was memorable.
She intercepted the ball at the midfield stripe and exhibited her exceptional speed as she raced toward the cage.
Gustin came out to challenge and stacked her pads but Tilton held the ball long enough to pull it around her and rifle a shot into the far corner from the top of the circle.
“I didn’t see any of my teammates in front of me so I took it myself,” said Tilton. “On a breakaway, I usually like to see what the goalie is going to do. She was coming out so I took it by her and put it right past her feet.”
“I did what I thought I should do on a one-on-one,” said Gustin.
Perkins had opened the scoring when Libby Kain’s diagonal pass snaked its way across to the far post and she chipped it past John Bapst goalie Aubrey Stanislawski.
John Bapst coach Gina Schuck felt her team played very well and praised Tilton, saying, “her stick work is unbelievable.”
She also called Dexter a “great team” and said she knew it was going to be a challenging game.
“This was our hardest game so we knew we had to step it up,” said Tilton.
Veazie felt her team “did a lot of good things, like controlling the ball a lot.
“But we needed to play better in the center of the field,” said Veazie.
John Bapst had 12 shot attempts to Dexter’s six. Both goalies played well, each finishing with two saves.
Schuck lauded the defensive effort turned in by Amelia Pellegrini while Veazie singled out Jordyn Bell for her outstanding play.