SCARBOROUGH – York High was able to weather the first quick start by the Leavitt field hockey team but not the second.
Leavitt, known for wearing teams down late in games, broke form and dominated the opening 10 minutes of each half in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory in the Western Class B final at Scarborough High.
The pressure paid off in the second half when Bri DeGone, taking the fourth shot in one penalty corner sequence, got the ball past York goalkeeper Amanda Kasbohm with 19:39 to play.
That was enough for the third-seeded Hornets to dethrone fourth-seeded York, the four-time regional champion.
“Looking back on it, it’s like, mind-blowing,” DeGone said of her goal. “I remember looking up and knowing that this was crucial and we weren’t going to have many options like this and that ball had to get into the net.”
Leavitt (14-3) returns to the state championship game for the first time since a four-year run from 1994-97.
“This group of kids, they just have really worked hard,” Coach Wanda Ward-MacLean said. “To have a team that comes together like that; I mean, we don’t have any superstars out there but everybody is solid and everybody does their job. It is so fun to coach them.”
York (12-4-1), the Western Maine champs from 2008-11, generated just three shots on net. Leavitt had a 10-7 edge in penalty corners.
“We’ve weathered a lot of storms this season,” said York Coach Barb Marois. “I thought we were still battling. It was pretty tight and competitive most of the way. We just gave them too many opportunities. I know they had more (corners) than we did and when you do that, you’re playing with fire.”
Leavitt will face Belfast, which beat Foxcroft Academy 2-1 in the Eastern Maine final, in Saturday’s state championship game at the University of Maine (time to be announced).
As the minutes wore down, Leavitt showed it had plenty of staying power, generating four more penalty corners and a couple of shots while shutting down York. Emily Shaw was especially effective, limiting York’s top scorer, Taylor Simpson, to scant second-half touches.
“She’s dangerous; Simpson’s dangerous. We didn’t want her to get the ball and beat us because we weren’t paying attention to her,” Ward-MacLean said.
Leavitt had a physical and emotional setback less than two minutes into the game when starting defender Annie Castonguay crumpled to the turf with an apparent serious knee injury. Castonguay didn’t return and was on crutches at the end of the game.
“We moved some kids around. We put Izzy Smith in as a back at the beginning of the game and then we moved Morgan Shaw, a midfielder, back to the center back to give us a little more stability back there,” Ward-MacLean said. “Kids stepped up and filled roles.”
It didn’t affect the Hornets’ quick offense, which generated three penalty corners and four shots in the opening 10 minutes.
Kasbohm made consecutive saves while sprawled to her full length, Leavitt unable to create a lift shot over her prone body.
Gradually York brought the game back into the center of the field before the half ended in a scoreless tie.
Early in the second half, York had a high-quality shot, a drive by Kelsey Elsemore off a penalty corner that Leavitt goalie Sierra Santomango firmly kicked away.
York was held to two shots, one in each half. Leavitt put nine shots on Kasbohm.
“York’s a young team. We’re young. We could see them again next year, who knows?” Ward-MacLean said.
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at: [email protected]