LEWISTON, Maine — Part of the rebirth of the Lewiston High School field hockey team this season has been self-accountability.
“My goal as a coach of this team is to collectively empower them so that they have the confidence to solve problems that are confronting them,” Lewiston coach Randy Richardson said. “When all of a sudden something needs to be decided, they’re the ones with the decision-making skills and the leadership skills to get that done. You saw that [Saturday].”
With the score knotted and just over a minute to play, officials awarded the Blue Devils a penalty stroke after Hampden Academy goalie Katie Seekins covered the ball while making a save. Lewiston huddled, and sniper Kelsey Dumond emerged, charged with taking the deciding stroke.
With the flick of her wrists, she sent the ball past Seekins and into the cage, lifting Lewiston to a 3-2 triumph over the visiting Broncos.
“I know goalies are wondering, thinking where my stick is facing,” Dumond said. “You just try to work on the deception on a shot like that.”
The victory is Lewiston’s eighth of the season, giving the Blue Devils (8-3) more wins this season than in the four previous seasons combined.
Dumond had all three goals for Lewiston, while freshman keeper Emma Burgess made seven saves in just her second full game of varsity action in place of injured senior Ravon Palmer.
“We love our goalie,” several Lewiston players said nearly in unison after the game.
“For someone put in her position, she’s doing awesome,” Lewiston’s Brianna Wilson said.
“It also helps to bring the team together, because they realize, in a very concrete way, that if they don’t pull together on the field, the goalie is the one who’s going to suffer,” Richardson said. “They love Emma, and she’s a remarkable individual. She confirms my own belief that you don’t make a goalie, they’re born. She loves the position, she has the personality for it, and she loves close games.”
As they had all game, the Broncos (2-9) responded quickly to Dumond’s penalty stroke tally, pushing the ball deep into Lewiston territory. They forced a penalty corner with time running down, and by rule the corner had to be played out. Burgess forced a shot wide to end the threat.
“I think it really hit us that we didn’t want to go into another overtime,” Wilson said. “Last year’s game was the same conditions. It was rainy, wet, freezing. We just wanted it to end.”
The Devils were on the board first as Dumond finished from five yards out after a scramble for the ball in front of Seekins. Despite dominating possession for most of the first half, though, they couldn’t push another in.
“Defensively we have some really strong backs, and our sweeper is also very strong,” Hampden coach Sara Ballard said. “Their marking is really good and they’re good at carrying the ball up field, and that kept us in the game.”
Chareeda Rustanavibul rattled home the equalizer for Hampden with 21 seconds to play in the opening half.
Lewiston came out in the second half and was again dominant. With 14:15 to play, Dumond shook loose in the circle, dribbled to the middle and fired a shot past Seekins.
“We really push our offense, even after a goal, to keep it up and push offensively,” Ballard said.
With 5:36 to play, Meredith Prescott tipped the ball to herself through Burgess’ legs and then eased the ball over the line to knot the score at 2-2.
“In a way, the goals they got after we scored motivated us even more,” Dumond said.
Lewiston pressured again, and after a great save from Seekins, the ball came to rest momentarily underneath her, prompting the whistle and the penalty stroke for Dumond.
“The whole idea is to improve, so that our best game is our last game,” Richardson said. “This was not our best game, but there were moments where we did things that we’ve been practicing, and it was a great experience.”