ORONO, Maine — What a difference a playing surface makes.
The John Bapst High School field hockey team was outshot 22-1 in Monday’s 1-0 loss on the grass field at Foxcroft Academy but the Crusaders rebounded for a 1-0 double-overtime victory over the previously undefeated Ponies on the University of Maine’s artificial surface on Saturday afternoon.
Senior midfielder Elise Tilton converted a Jessica Leslie pass into her 19th goal of the season 16 seconds into the second overtime as the Crusaders snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 8-3.
The Ponies fell to 10-1.
“We’re comfortable here. We’re stronger here,” said John Bapst coach Gina Schuck, referring to their home field in Orono. “We read the angles on the turf better. We know where the ball is going to go so we can cover better. We’re smarter with the ball. When you know the ball is going to come with you [instead of taking a bad hop on grass], you trust yourself more.”
Adhering to field hockey rules, the teams took four players off the field and played seven versus seven in overtime.
John Bapst dominated the overtimes and capitalized when Leslie gained control of the ball just over midfield and made a 10-yard run before seeing the speedy Tilton break free to her left.
“Elise knows exactly where to be and I know she’s going to be there. She’s awesome,” said Leslie who slid a short pass over to Tilton.
Tilton broke in alone on freshman goalkeeper Avery Carroll and converted.
“I knew I had to get ahead of the ball to beat their defenders,” said Tilton. “I saw [Carroll] coming out once I got the ball so I pulled it around her and sent it in.”
Tilton carried the ball to her right around the onrushing Carroll and rolled it into the exposed cage.
“In one-on-one situations with the goalie, Elise does a great job,” said Foxcroft Academy senior midfielder Monica Miles.
“I moved Jessica up [from right back] to right wing in the second half and what a [big] difference that made,” said Schuck.
Carroll had forced the second overtime with three saves in the first overtime including back-to-back stops off Christina Long, who had a breakaway, and Leslie, who tried to flip home the rebound.
John Bapst finished with an 8-6 edge in shot attempts and the Crusaders received exceptional performances from midfielder Amelia Pellegrini and backs Rachel Graves, Olivia Pellegrini and Samantha Ballesteros to limit the Ponies’ scoring chances.
“Their defense did a great job. They kept their sticks down [to block shots and passes],” said Foxcroft senior midfielder Gabi Henderson.
Foxcroft’s best chance of the day came in the opening minutes when Emily Higgins, positioned in the middle of the circle, redirected a Miles cross back to the right of Bapst goalie Karen Noble.
But Noble fully extended her right arm while she was on the ground and made a terrific save.
“I saw the ball behind me so I stuck my stick out and hit it with my stick,” said Noble, whose save was her only one of the game.
Tilton and Leslie were elated with the win.
“We had a rough week. We definitely needed this,” said Tilton.
Leslie said the Crusaders took their free hits quicker and that helped significantly.
Mackenzie Coiley, Amber Anderson and Miles turned in impressive performances for FA along with Carroll, who finished with four saves.