BANGOR, Maine — With good weather and a fast field, most players and coaches at Tuesday evening’s game at Penobscot Job Corps Field expected a higher scoring game.
After Mariah Arno swept the ball into the John Bapst goal 22 seconds into the game, those expectations seemed more than justified.
Instead, neither team could manage another goal over the ensuing 59 minutes, 38 seconds and the Foxcroft Academy Ponies emerged with a 1-0 field hockey victory over John Bapst of Bangor.
“It was mostly luck. I mean, they weren’t ready for it,” said Arno.
Fortunately, Arno was.
“It came across from our left wing, Sabrina Sharrow, and our center, Kelsey Boss, hit it across,” she added. “It missed the goal, but I caught it at the end line and just drove it in.”
The rest of the game was a stalemate.
“Defense is big for us. We expected it to be a lot easier to drive it down the field the way it is and have a higher scoring game,” said Boss, who was credited with the assist on the goal.
Both teams’ defenses kept the action almost exclusively at midfield.
“I think both teams did a pretty good job of controlling the ball,” said Bapst coach Gina Schuck, whose Crusaders drop to 1-4. “Foxcroft had a lot of corners and our defense was having trouble inside the circle.
“Shotswise, things were pretty even. Sometimes on a fast field, you have to keep the play smaller because you don’t want it too get too far ahead where you don’t have support.”
The 3-1 Ponies barely outshot Bapst 8-7, but had 12 penalty corners to the Crusaders’ three.
“We didn’t really want to slow it down. The kids were just hitting it too hard because our field is so thick, they’re not used to fields like this and it takes them a whole game to adjust,” said Ponies coach Gene Philpot. “It really didn’t get in the circle too much. It was just banging back and forth… Just kind of an uncontrolled game.”
Sharrow said the Ponies adjusted as the game wore on.
“We tried to check the ball more because it’s harder to do dodges on this field, so you have to just stop the ball and then go,” said Sharrow. “Here, you have to keep the ball closer to your stick so you don’t lose control and make more short passes.”
Ponies freshman Cassie Carter, who is starting in place of Lexi Turner-Bragan (head injury), made seven saves in the shutout.
Bapst goalie Megan Smith also made seven saves.
Despite the loss, Schuck found something to make her smile over her team’s effort.
“We had two defensive starters hurt and we were a little young in the back, but I think it made everybody step up a little bit,” Schuck said. “This is probably, with the exception of the first 22 seconds, the best game I’ve seen our team play from start to finish.
“As frustrated as I was with our last two games, I was happy with the way our younger girls filled some shoes.”