Thursday, December 12, 2013
By Matt DiFilippo firstname.lastname@example.org
FARMINGTON — The game was scoreless when Mt. Blue earned its first penalty corner of the second half. It was a key sequence in a playoff game. Mt. Blue coach Jody Harmon decided the ball should go to junior Jenna Bullen, who had zero goals in her varsity career.
“She has the best drive on the team,” Harmon said, “and we’ve wanted her to score all season long.”
For Bullen and all of the Cougars, the wait was worth it. Bullen drilled in a shot on the corner, and Sarita Crandall added a goal with 18 seconds left as No. 3 Mt. Blue held off No. 6 Cony 2-0 in an Eastern A field hockey quarterfinal Wednesday afternoon.
Mt. Blue (12-3-0) plays No. 2 Messalonskee in a semifinal game Saturday in Oakland. The Eagles defeated Mt. Blue 3-0 on Sept. 14 in their only regular-season meeting. Cony finishes 7-7-1.
Bullen scored with 24:25 left in the game. Lined up on the right side, she took the insertion pass from Mikayla Oswald and sent the ball into the cage with a hard drive.
“We’ve been switching her around and trying her in every different location, and this play was actually screwed up,” Harmon said. “She just made it happen. Maybe that’s just it: We don’t want to have a set play.”
“I didn’t know it went in at first and I’ve never scored a goal, so I was really shocked,” Bullen said. “I was stunned. I’m just happy we made it this far.”
Mt. Blue had the advantage in shots (13-3) and penalty corners (10-3). Much of that was due to the defense of Mt. Blue freshman sweeper Kayleigh Fontaine. With starting sweeper Hanna Deon on a class trip to Guatemala, Harmon chose Fontaine — who has been starting for only about four games — to play sweep and be the flier on Cony’s offensive corners.
Fontaine didn’t play the position like a traditional sweeper. At times there were four teammates behind her on defense as she roamed near midfield. But the results were sublime. Fontaine had the speed and stick skills to cut off Cony rushes on both sides of the field, and get back into position.
“Oh my God, I was so nervous,” Fontaine said. “I’ve never played sweeper before, and I was like, ‘Oh, God!’ ”
“She’s super-fast, she stays low, and she came through,” Harmon said. “We had three freshmen in our backfield today.”
Cony had few big-time offensive chances and the Rams had an uncharacteristically high number of passes and free hits sail out of bounds. Yet the Rams were still alive when they earned a penalty corner with 2:27 to play.
Arika Brochu took the shot for Cony and her blast was stopped by Mt. Blue goalie Rileigh Blanchet. The Cougars committed a foul in the circle, giving Cony another corner. This time, Brochu’s shot was stopped short by Bullen, who was able to get the ball upfield.
In the final minute, with Cony playing one player short because of a green card and the Rams selling out on offense, Crandall and Victoria Newbill got free behind the defense on a breakaway. Crandall knocked the ball in for the final goal.
“I think we had a great bunch of girls,” said Cony coach Al Brochu, who filled in late in the season with coach Holly Daigle on maternity leave. “I had 22 kids that got along like a big family and I think it’s only going to make us stronger down the road.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243