OLD TOWN, Maine — Second-seeded Old Town High School had its hands full with seventh-seeded Waterville High School in their Eastern Maine Class B field hockey quarterfinal on Wednesday afternoon.
But the opportunistic Coyotes received first-half goals from senior forward Jocy St. Jean and senior midfielder Kate Rawson (penalty stroke) and relied on a brilliant 17-save performance from Erica Ogden to nip Waterville 2-1.
Ogden made 12 of her saves in the second half as the Purple Panthers stormed the circle, earning 11 of their 15 penalty corners.
The Panthers (5-9-1) were finally rewarded for their pressure and persistence when freshman forward Amber Hill converted an assist from Olivia Lopes with 13:55 remaining. But Ogden made some critical saves in the waning moments to enable Old Town (13-1-1) to move on to the Saturday semifinals against No. 3 Gardiner.
Gardiner, a 5-0 winner over Brewer, is 12-3.
With just under two minutes remaining, a shot by Waterville’s Jena Nawfel deflected across to senior back Kaitlyn Spaulding in the left side of the circle. Spaulding quickly shot back against the grain, but Ogden robbed her with her left pad.
“I don’t get a lot of scoring opportunities, but that was one. She was a pretty good goalie,” said Spaulding, who had plenty of zip on her shot.
Ogden said she saw where Spaulding was looking and knew there was an open corner to her left, “so I lifted my leg up [to make the save].
“This was probably my best game of the year,” added Ogden.
Old Town coach Sarah Estes said Ogden played “the game of her life.”
“She was amazing. She kept us in it,” agreed Rawson.
The Panthers outshot the Coyotes 27-11, 16-3 in the second half, behind a scintillating performance by senior midfielder Nawfel.
The dynamic and omnipresent Nawfel had 13 of Waterville’s 27 shots and had several impressive rushes while also igniting the attack by winning the ball all over the field.
“It’s frustrating,” said Nawfel. “We’ve had a little trouble scoring this season.”
Nawfel was the recipient of most of the insertion passes on the penalty corners and ripped shot after shot on goal only to have Ogden come out and kick them away. Nawful did hit the post to the right of Ogden early in the second half.
“By playing Futures [elite field hockey program], it really taught me to come out more to cut down the angles,” said Ogden. “Waterville has one heck of a team. You’ve got to give 2 [Nawfel] and 7 [Lopes] a lot of credit.”
Old Town opened the scoring with 19:17 remaining in the first half off its first penalty corner.
The ball deflected across the goalmouth back off the stick of Kristyn Bell to St. Jean, who tapped it into the empty net.
Four minutes later, Old Town was awarded a penalty stroke after Waterville freshman Destiny Jones had made a series of rapid-fire point-blank saves. The goalie was ruled to have made the ball unplayable by closing her feet on it and moving with it.
Rawson converted with a perfectly-placed shot to Jones’ right.
“It was the first one I had ever taken in high school. I tried to follow the rules so it wouldn’t be called back and tried to be as strong as I could [with the shot],” said Rawson.
“It was a real good stroke,” said Jones.
Hill’s second-half goal was Waterville’s 12th shot of the half compared to Old Town’s one as she muscled the ball past Ogden’s right leg while converging on the goal.
Jones finished with seven saves in a stellar performance.
Back Lizzy Colannino had some important clearances in the second half for Old Town, and freshman forward Brooke Sullinski made some important dashes with the ball to relieve the pressure and get the ball into the Waterville half.