BANGOR — Even though quality skills on the field are an essential factor to winning championships, the Dexter field hockey team possesses three important internal qualities that have been the key to the Tigers’ recent success.
Heart, desire and passion.
“(Those are) all things that we have,” senior back Shelbee Lancaster said at a practice Monday at Husson University.
Those traits will be on full display tonight at Hampden Academy as the Tigers gun for their third consecutive Eastern Maine Class C championship when they battle rival Foxcroft Academy at 5:30.
This match is the second of a three-game day at Hampden’s artificial turf field, with Nokomis of Newport meeting Mount View of Thorndike in the Class B game at 3:30 p.m. and Messalonskee of Oakland playing Skowhegan in Class A action at 7:30 p.m.
The Class C matchup is a battle of teams that have won two of the last three state championships — the Ponies won in 2007 while the Tigers won it all last fall — and they’re certainly familiar with one another, having also met in the Eastern Maine final last season.
“We know what their strengths are and their weakness, so we know what to attack,” senior back Devyn Bell said.
Getting some practice time on Husson’s artificial turf field should help the Tigers, but playing on an artificial surface is nothing new to coach Margaret Veazie’s club.
“It helps a lot because we’re basically a turf team, we like turf and we’re fast, so we can get to the ball quicker,” senior forward Chelsea Lougee said.
Dexter cruised to a 4-0 victory over Hall-Dale in its postseason opener, but the Tigers were tested by Winthrop in the semifinals Saturday, and while Lancaster scored in the penalty-corner round to give her team a 1-0 victory, it was a reminder that the Tigers want to end their season with a victory.
“It was tough. It was one of our best games we’ve played this season, though,” said senior back Chelsea Crane. “They were very quick. We used our skills against them, though.”
Dexter swept Foxcroft this fall, beating the Ponies 3-0 and 4-0, and Lancaster has been one of the Tigers’ top offensive weapons during the postseason with three goals in two games.
Even though the Tigers did dominate their rivals during regular-season play, Lancaster and her teammates are motivated.
“The only difference is they’re going to want revenge. It’s going to make it more difficult on us, they’ll be angry, they’ll want revenge, so it just means we’ll have to step our game up a little bit,” Lancaster said.
But the fact that the Tigers are familiar with the Ponies — they hadn’t seen Winthrop prior to last weekend — may work in their favor.
“I was more nervous the last game because we didn’t know what to expect, but we’ve played Dover before,” said senior midfielder Kirstie Mower.
Dexter is also one of the quickest teams in the state, and with a faster game expected on the turf at Hampden, the Tigers may have a slight edge.
“We do a lot on turf in the summer and the winter, we play on turf pretty much year-round where other teams don’t as much, so its definitely a strength we have over other teams. We’re quicker and faster and we’re used to it,” Lancaster said.
The Class B game features a Nokomis squad which has plenty of experience on this stage, as the Warriors won the Eastern Maine title in 2008 and played for a similar prize last fall, losing to Gardiner.
The Warriors are led offensively by senior Jordin McGinnis.
And in Class A, Messalonskee and Skowhegan aren’t strangers, as they met in the Eastern Maine game last season, with Skowhegan taking the title.
The Indians are undefeated and have won every regional title since 2001.