Thursday, December 5, 2013
By Mike Lowe firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTLAND - Throughout the second half, Gretchen Errington kept exhorting her Dirigo High field hockey players to push on, to get out of the defensive end.
"It took them a while," Errington said afterward, "but they finally caught on."
That the Cougars did. Sixth-seeded Dirigo got goals from freshman Emma Leuders and junior Rylee L'Italien about two minutes apart in the final seven minutes to pull away from No.3 Waynflete 3-0 Tuesday afternoon in a Western Class C quarterfinal.
It was an emotional win for the Cougars, coming exactly one year after the death of Danielle Ranger -- a Dirigo field hockey player -- in a car crash.
Ellie Wainwright, a sophomore who scored Dirigo's first goal in the first half, said, simply, "We were playing for Dani. We were not going to give up today."
Dirigo (6-8-1) will play at defending state champ North Yarmouth Academy in Saturday's semifinals. Waynflete finished 8-5-2.
Waynflete Coach Kelly Hoffman said in a postgame email her team simply did not play as well as it had all season.
"We are a strong team, but Dirigo was better prepared and able to handle the pressure of the postseason," she wrote, noting this was the Flyers' best season since 1979.
"It was tough to face a team that we do not play in the regular season. But I believe this experience will allow us to learn from our mistakes and be a more formidable opponent in the playoffs next year."
The Cougars controlled play throughout the first half, pressing the attack and keeping Waynflete's offense out of the circle. Wainwright got the only goal of the half, following up a shot by Kelsey Wilson that was stopped by Waynflete goalie Katherine Torrey. The ball rolled to the left post and, Wainwright said, "I wasn't going to let it not go in."
So she knocked it in with 19:32 left.
Getting that first goal was huge, said Wainwright, because "it's not good when you're playing catch-up."
"This team has a hard time coming from behind," said Errington.
Torrey kept it 1-0 when she made a stunning diving save to her right to stop L'Italien point blank.
Waynflete gained momentum in the second half, keeping the ball in the offensive end while Errington implored her defenders to get the ball wide and out of the zone. Dirigo's Meagan Brann made several big defensive plays.
"This is typically how we play," Errington said. "Once we get in a rut playing like that, it's hard to pull out of it."
As the clock ticked down and the Flyers kept up the pressure, Errington thought her team would break.
"I told the kids they needed to step it up," she said. "How many times did I have to tell them that before they would do it?"
Finally the Cougars broke out of the zone and into the circle, resulting in a penalty corner. On the penalty corner, Wainwright's shot was blocked, and L'Italien whiffed on the rebound. But the ball rolled to Leuders, who stuck it in at the right post with 6:54 left.
Then 2:07 later, L'Italien stuffed in her own rebound and it was 3-0.
"We always play as hard as we can," said Wainwright. "We try to play like the upper seed."
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: