ORONO, Maine — After a loss in the 2011 West regional semifinal round, Lisbon wanted another chance to prove it could play with the best field hockey teams in Maine.
Now, the Greyhounds are the best in Maine.
Arianna Kahler scored 1:02 into the game and Hannah Jordan added another early in the second half as Lisbon held off Winthrop 2-1 to earn the Class C state field hockey title at Morse Field on the campus of the University of Maine on Saturday.
“The drive to win kept me going, it kept our whole team going,” Jordan said.
“They really dug down and play with heart today, and that’s what our team is about,” Lisbon coach Julie Wescott said. “They don’t give up, they play hard all the time, they practice hard, they were awesome … I know Lisbon field hockey has never been here, and I didn’t want people to think us winning a playoff game was a fluke.”
Lisbon (17-0-1), which tied Winthrop in the regular season and lost to the Ramblers in the MVC championship game, avenged its only blemishes of the season in the game that mattered most.
“I think them beating us in the MVC game was good for us, it gave us motivation to come back harder,” Kahler said.
The Ramblers, meanwhile, tasted defeat in the season’s final game for the second consecutive year. North Yarmouth Academy defeated Winthrop 1-0 in the 2011 state title game.
“It was a great season, we won two championships,” Winthrop coach Sharon Coulton said. “We just didn’t get the one we’d been talking about.”
Lisbon didn’t allow Winthrop to breathe early in the contest. Thirty seconds into the game, the Greyhounds earned their first penalty corner. Thirty second after that, on their second penalty corner, they scored.
“We were just in it from the beginning,” Kahler said. “We knew how much this means to our entire team.”
Kahler converted a tip from Bailey Cutler at the left side of the cage and rattled it home behind Winthrop keeper Alyssa Arsenault for the quick 1-0 advantage.
“We’ve been doing a lot of drills, and that helped,” Kahler said. “It’s hard to see, you just have to have a quick reaction to whatever comes your way.”
“I was in disbelief, to be honest,” Wescott said. “I looked at my assistant coach and I said, ‘All right, I guess they’re ready to play.’ As soon as they put that ball in the cage, a fire lit up, and they were ready to go.”
For the better part of the first half, the teams played evenly. Winthrop managed more penalty corner attempts in the opening 30 minutes, but couldn’t get a single shot on Lisbon goalie Stevie Charest.
“The kids were nervous, as you would expect, and if you said they weren’t that wouldn’t be honest,” Coulton said. “They had very high expectations coming in, this is something we’d talked about since last year, to get back to this game. We knew they were going to come out tough, we wanted to match it, and when they scored early like that, we didn’t get down, but, you’re in a hole.”
The Ramblers almost did to Lisbon what the Greyhounds had done to them in the first half early in the second. Winthrop came out firing and earned two quick penalty corners.
But it was Lisbon, riding a long clear and fast break after Charest’s first save of the game, that struck next. A long carry up the right side led to a scrum at the right side of the cage. Molly Nicholson emerged from the gaggle of players, crossed the ball to the left post and Hannah Jordan finished with a tap-in to put the Greyhounds on top 2-0.
“We had a great cross from across the circle, and I was lucky enough to be there and to just tap it in,” Jordan said.
Winthrop was far from finished. The Ramblers sent wave after wave at the Lisbon defense, which continued to bend but not break.
“We were certainly threatening near the end, we never gave up,” Coulton said. “I’m very proud of the team for playing down to the last second.”
The Ramblers finally solved Lisbon’s back line — and Charest — with 5:34 to play in the contest as Mary Claire Blanchard drove home a goal from the right post.
Lisbon called a timeout.
“I just told them, ‘Don’t hang tour heads, don’t let up a bit,'” Wescott said. “Luckily enough, we scored early enough in the game, and I just told them, ‘We just held them to 55 minutes of scoreless field hockey, you did not work this hard to give up another goal and go into overtime.'”
“I was a little nervous at that point,” Lisbon defender Allison Bubar said. “But I knew we could do it.”
The Greyhounds didn’t allow another shot on goal, and kept most of the play at midfield to run the clock out.
“The girls put so much effort into this season,” Wescott said. “I’m all about hard work, because that’s all I knew as a player, and as a coach, and I love it when hard work pays off.”