OLD TOWN, Maine — The Old Town High School field hockey team’s Eastern Maine Class B playoff aspirations were on the line against Stearns High School of Millinocket on Thursday afternoon.
The Coyotes were in a must-win situation.
After spotting the Minutemen a 1-0 lead, junior forward Jocy St. Jean tied it with 13:38 left in regulation and won it three minutes into the first overtime as the Coyotes earned a well-deserved 2-1 triumph over the Minutemen.
The victory narrowly leapfrogged 8-4-1 Old Town over Mt. Blue of Farmington into ninth place and the final playoff spot. Old Town is 7-2-1 over its last 10 games.
Stearns fell to 7-6 but the Minutemen are comfortably entrenched in third place in Eastern Maine Class C.
Kristen Manzo scored a first-half goal for Stearns with Alexandria Mooney assisting.
Stearns junior goalkeeper Whitney Guy turned in a terrific performance as she continually frustrated the Coyotes. She finished with 12 saves on 33 shots.
Erica Ogden faced only five shots for Old Town and made one save.
Old Town had 23 penalty corners to Stearns’ four.
The Coyotes tied it on their eighth penalty corner of the second half as a shot by Ali King deflected across the penalty circle to the far post where St. Jean redirected it past the helpless Guy.
“I was next to [Guy] but my stick was behind her,” said St. Jean, who tapped it home.
The Coyotes had completely dominated play in the second half and constantly had the ball in the penalty circle.
But the Minutemen almost regained the lead just moments after St. Jean had tied it.
The Minutemen generated a rare attack and Mooney fed Baylee Brodeur inside the circle.
Ogden alertly came off her line and made a pad save off Brodeur’s shot and the Coyotes caught a break when Brodeur slipped in the rainy conditions while trying to shovel the rebound behind Ogden.
The game-winner was set up by Kate Rawson, who ran into the circle down the right side and fired a low, hard shot that Guy was able to kick out with her pad.
Rawson pounced on the rebound and took another shot that deflected in front.
In the ensuing scramble, St. Jean flipped the ball toward the cage and it glanced in off a Stearns stick.
“I think my second shot got stuck under (Guy’s) foot,” said Rawson. “Jocy got it through and her shot went up to waist-level, deflected off a defensive stick and went in.”
Stearns had scored off a penalty corner with 19:08 left in the first half as Emily Wark inserted the ball to Mooney, whose long shot across the goalmouth went to Manzo and she finished from point-blank range at the far post.
Rawson, St. Jean, Emma Cyr and King turned in exceptional performances as they created all kinds of scoring chances.
Wark, Mooney, Manzo and Taylor Pelkey stood out for Stearns. They were also the defenders on Old Town’s penalty corners and teamed up with Guy to thwart 22 of the 23 corners.
“We dominated most of the game. It would have been a bummer if we didn’t come out with a win,” said first-year Old Town coach Sarah Estes. “We worked so hard to keep the pressure on them in the circle. They played us tough but [the goals] eventually fell in.”
“We want to make the playoffs,” said St. Jean.