HAMPDEN, Maine — The defending state Class B champion Belfast High School field hockey team exhibited its resiliency on Tuesday night.
The top-seeded Lions spotted third seed Foxcroft Academy a 1-0 lead just 7:37 into the game but answered with a pair of goals 3:21 apart later in the first half and went on to post a 2-1 victory.
Belfast, 14-1-2, will meet Leavitt of Turner, 14-3, in Saturday’s state final at the University of Maine in Orono.
Foxcroft concluded a 14-3 season under first-year coach Stephanie Smith, who was filling in for long-time coach Gene Philpot. Philpot took a leave of absence.
Foxcroft senior Monica Miles opened the scoring off a penalty corner but Logan Blood tied it with 15:37 left in the half and Maddy Cummings scored the game-winner at the 12:16 mark.
Belfast protected the lead efficiently in the second half, limiting the Ponies to one shot on goal.
Miles scored by taking the insertion pass from Lindsey Arno in the left side of the penalty circle and beating Belfast senior goalie Julia Ward with an angled shot to the far side.
Belfast coach Allen Holmes called an immediate timeout.
“We needed to step it up,” said Cummings. “We came out flat. Once we got our momentum, we took control.”
Belfast senior central midfielder Katrina Lapham pointed out that they came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Camden Hills 3-2 on Sept. 11.
“We believe in ourselves. We just kept pushing,” said Lapham.
Blood tied it when she jammed home a Cummings rebound from point-blank range.
“I just hit it and it slowly rolled over the goal line,” said senior forward Blood, who added that Foxcroft goalie Avery Carroll tried to rescue it with her stick but ended up knocking it further over the line.
Junior forward Cummings broke the tie with her fourth goal of the playoffs as she took a pass from Lexi Nelligan at the top of the circle and fired a shot through a maze of players that slipped between the pads of Carroll.
“I just saw the opening and took the shot,” said Cummings. “I was hoping someone would tip it but it didn’t need the tip.”
Holmes thought his team played well and they didn’t panic when they fell behind.
“We’ve been behind before in close games and have come back every time but once,” said Holmes.
The Ponies generated several dangerous runs down the left flank in the first half with Arno involved in most of them.
But Holmes made some adjustments at halftime and they worked as Foxcroft struggled to create a consistent attack until the waning minutes.
“We switched our formation and the lineup in the backfield and supported each other a little differently,” said Holmes. “It worked for us.”
He added that the new alignment gave speedy winger Lexi Nelligan “more freedom.”
Nelligan assisted on both goals.
“They did shut off our left side (attack),” said Foxcroft coach Smith. “And we couldn’t seem to work it up the right side at all today and that is normally our strength. They did a good job breaking that up.”
Ward finished with one save on three shots while Carroll had three saves on seven shots.
Ward made a nice save off Gabi Henderson’s close-range shot in the second half.