HAMPDEN — Foxcroft Academy field hockey coach Gene Philpot has seen a little bit of everything during her 33 years coaching the Ponies.
But even she was stunned after her second-seeded Ponies upset top seed and defending state Class C champion Dexter 1-0 in overtime in their Eastern Maine championship game Tuesday night.
“I am shocked,” said Philpot, whose Ponies used a penalty stroke by sophomore left midfielder Monica Miles with 3:05 remaining in the first OT to claim their first EM title since 2007, when they won the state championship.
Foxcroft Academy, 11-5-1, will face 16-1 North Yarmouth Academy in Saturday’s state title game in Orono.
Dexter, which beat Foxcroft twice during the regular season, finished 15-2.
The penalty stroke was awarded when the Tigers had eight players on the field after coach Margaret Veazie made some wholescale changes.
Teams play seven-versus-seven in overtime.
“We wholesale sub on the seven-on-seven if we choose to and I felt, on turf, at that point, that we needed to,” explained Veazie. “I hollered for them all to come off and they didn’t all come off. They may not have heard because of the crowd and stuff. But it never should have gone into overtime. That was our own problem.”
Miles calmly stepped up to the penalty spot, 7 yards from the goal, and flipped it into the cage, beating Dexter junior goalie Maicee Gustin to the blocker side.
It was the third time she has converted a penalty stroke in four tries this season.
“I usually pick a certain spot and I look there, but then I look in the other direction and then look straight at the goalie and then I just put it in,” said Miles. “I usually keep it down toward her feet because it’s harder (for goalies) to move.”
“I expected her to go to the stick side. Everyone knows it’s harder for a goalie to stop it there,” said Gustin. “I tried to get it with my other (glove) hand coming across like I do during warmups, but it didn’t work. She put it right in the spot where I couldn’t get it with my leg pad or with my stick either.”
The Tigers had glorious opportunities to win it earlier in the overtime as they moved the ball down the field and earned three penalty corners.
Chelsea Crane set up Libby Kain in the left side of the circle. Kain tried to shoot it to the far side, but FA goalie Cassie Curtis kicked it out with her pad.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” said Curtis.
Moments later, Kain had a shot in the middle of the circle that was blocked, but the rebound came right back to her and she whistled her shot just wide of the post to Curtis’ right.
The Ponies had done an exceptional job defensively during regulation, getting numbers behind the ball and making it difficult for Dexter to get into the circle.
“We played real well. We made good quick passes and dribbled out of the circle,” said Miles.
“This was definitely our best game of the year,” said junior sweeper Kyra Brown, who made a couple of last-second clearances to prevent Curtis from having to make difficult saves. “We knew we had to come out strong and play with more intensity.”
“I didn’t have to do much. My teammates definitely helped me out a lot,” said Curtis, who finished with three saves on 15 shots.
Gustin made one save on six shots and sweeper Jamika Cookson made a great play in the second half to clear a goal-bound shot away as Gustin tried to scramble across the populated goalmouth.
Veazie said, “We just didn’t play our best game.”
“And you have to in these instances. They’re a good team and Gene is a great coach. They were prepared,” said Veazie, who felt her team tried to do too much individually and didn’t move well off the ball.
Dexter had a good opportunity with 2:50 left in the first half as Hillary Mower made a run down the right flank and crossed the ball into the crowded goalmouth.
The Tigers had a couple of whacks at the ball, but the Pony defenders were able to get their sticks and bodies in the way.