LINCOLN — Giving up goals is something the Dexter field hockey team isn’t used to.
Entering Wednesday’s Class C matchup against Mattanawcook Academy, Class B power John Bapst had been the only team to score on the reigning state champion Tigers this fall, and when the Lynx found a way to tie the game early in the second half, coach Margaret Veazie’s club rose up like champions.
Sophomore Libby Kain scored the second of her two goals with 17:16 left in regulation as Dexter earned a hard fought 2-1 victory to improve its record to 9-1.
Mattanawcook slips to 4-5-1.
Hillary Mower fed an unmarked Kain along the right side of the circle, and she swept the ball into the left side of the cage.
“Hillary hit it in and I just kind of got my stick on it, and it just went in,” said Kain. “I didn’t even have to hit it hard.”
Kain scored her first goal 7:58 before halftime, swiping home a Shelby Lancaster pass from the top of the circle.
The Lynx fought back to tie it early in the second half, with Brooke Kimball knocking a Taylor Hawkins pass in between Dexter goalkeeper Maicee Gustin’s pads, which made believers out of coach Dean Libbey’s team for a little while.
“I’m very happy we were competitive with a top-notch team,“ he said. “We’ve been competitive with everybody we’ve played.”
The Tigers did well to fight off a physical Mattanawcook team and controlled play, holding a 16-2 advantage in shots.
But then again, a physical game is nothing new to Dexter.
“It’s mental, you just work through it, it happens,” said Lancaster. “You’ve got to work past it and work together as a team to get over it.”
Dexter also felt it could have scored a few more goals, particularly in the first half in which the Tigers were awarded eight penalty corners.
“That’s actually been a struggle we’ve had all season, is to finish in front of the cage,” said Lancaster, one of five Tiger seniors. “We have a very good offense, just finishing is the biggest problem we’ve always had.”
Dexter also had to adjust to Mattanawcook’s thick grass field, which is different than that of the Tigers’ home field.
“It’s thick, its much slower than ours, it’s patchy,” Lancaster said. “We’re used to a faster field everywhere we play. It was an adjustment we had to make.”
But Dexter eventually adjusted to that and the physical play of the Lynx, although Veazie would’ve preferred to have seen it sooner.
“Obviously we don’t do very good adjusting which is not good, we should,“ she said. “It takes us a whole half to get adjusted. I thought in the second half we started playing tougher.”
The Tigers’ veteran back line of Chelsea Crane, Lancaster and Devin Bell kept the Lynx’ attack at bay for most of the match, and Mattanawcook had trouble counterattacking.
Colleen Albert played a strong game in goal for MA, coming up with nine saves while Gustin had to make just one for Dexter.