WESTBROOK — Beth Murphy knew her overachieving Westbrook High field hockey team didn’t play its best Saturday in a 1-0 Western Class A preliminary-round victory against Biddeford.
Murphy also knew that the hard-working and 10th-seeded Tigers had a lot to do with keeping the seventh-ranked Blue Blazes on their heels for extended segments of the game.
“I’ll give kudos to Biddeford. They hung tough. On their free hits they took them as quick as they could and forced us to really hustle back and transition back to defense,” Murphy said.
Micaela LeBeau scored the only goal after 7:25 when Westbrook was able to move quickly in the other direction.
Abby St. Clair hustled the ball up the left side and slid a pass to LeBeau coming down the left-center, with Siobhan Foley adding support on the right. LeBeau took a good, hard shot that beat diminutive Biddeford goalie Mackenzie Hevey to the right side.
“It was really well set up,” LeBeau said. “Abby passed it through and I just tapped it in. We had a couple of those but I guess we weren’t keeping our sticks down enough.”
LeBeau’s goal came on Westbrook’s first shot. Hevey stopped the next 10 shots while her defense thwarted 14 Westbrook penalty corners.
Westbrook (9-6) will be at No. 2 Massabesic (12-2) for Wednesday’s regional quarterfinal, the time undecided. The two met last year in the quarters with Westbrook winning at home. Earlier this season Massabesic beat Westbrook, 3-1.
Biddeford (7-8) was making its first playoff appearance in five years, according to Coach Leslie Mourmouras. The Tigers had been outscored 12-0 in their final three games, including a 3-0 loss at Westbrook. Their effort Saturday, led by the midfield play of Abbie Paquette and Alex Quigley, and some big-time stops by Hevey in each half, was more indicative of their 6-3 start.
In both halves, Biddeford was the team that controlled play through the first six to eight minutes. In the first half it was LeBeau’s goal that got Westbrook going.
In the second half, Westbrook’s surge coincided with Quigley having to leave with an injury after taking a stick to her upper leg. She did return but by then Westbrook was in a sequence of getting 10 penalty corners in a little over 10 minutes.
“It was maybe deflating a little. She’s such a strong, strong leader on and off the field,” Mourmouras said. “We did have somebody who could fill the spot and we were confident that they would hold it together until (Quigley) was ready to come back.”
Sure enough, with Quigley back on the field and Paquette hustling relentlessly, Biddeford closed the game with a flurry of pressure.
But pressure did not result in shots on Westbrook goalie Nicole Miranda (4 saves), who was supported by a defense led by Elizabeth Stalling and Julia Patrie.
“My defense stepped it up. This is a brand-new defense this year; they didn’t have a lot of varsity experience, and they’re coming through,” Murphy said.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: