SACO — Apparently Taylor Simpson and her York High field hockey teammates didn’t like the feeling of trailing in a playoff game.

The unbeaten and mostly untested Wildcats fell behind in the Western Class B semifinals on Saturday and had to go to penalty corners to escape Leavitt and secure their passage to the regional final Tuesday against No. 2 Spruce Mountain.

The Phoenix must have left frigid Thornton Academy wishing no one had gotten the Wildcats riled up.

Simpson rifled home a shot just 1:06 into the game, then added another goal at 8:22, and York dominated the rest of the way in a 6-0 win.

“From the start of the game we knew that this was going to be a tough game. Our goal was to come out strong and score in the first five minutes, because we know that sets the tone of the game and we wanted to set the tone of the game,” said Simpson.

Simpson finished with three goals and an assist. It’s the sixth time this season she has scored at least three goals.

Senior captains Sarah Panteleos (two goals) and Kathleen Cronin also scored, with Alie Jones adding an assist.

York (17-0) will face Nokomis in Saturday’s state final at Yarmouth High. It’s York’s eighth trip to the state final in 10 seasons. The Wildcats’ lone state championship came in 2008 when they beat Nokomis 1-0.

Coach Barb Marois said the close call against Leavitt has made her team better.

“That was a really tough game. As much as you don’t want to say it was a good thing, it was a good thing in the long run,” Marois said. “We hadn’t been in a situation like that where it was all or nothing and we were behind. So we had to fight. We had to claw our way back and the girls were able to do that, and when you can get through a situation like that and survive, I think it helps a lot with your confidence.”

“I think the experience of our last game, they had to think about how they wanted to start the game and to set the tone early,” Marois added.

York upped its lead to 3-0 when Panteleos collected a Simpson cross and pushed home a shot that just got under the extended arms of diving goalie Kasey Richards with 20:19 left in the first half.

Spruce Mountain was playing its first game this season on artificial turr. York’s stick skills, passing and ability to turn every whistle into another quick forward thrust overwhelmed the Phoenix.

“It took awhile to get used to (the artificial turf) and they clobbered us right in the beginning,” said Spruce Mountain co-coach Jane DiPompo.

After controlling play in the first half, York did the same in the second. Simpson banged home her own rebound to make it 4-0. Panteleos was on the left post for another strike, this time from Jones’ pass, and Cronin finished things off with a rebound goal with 12:27 to play.

“Just because of last game it was really key for us to start off strong and work throughout the whole entire game,” Cronin said. “Everyone contributed to this game. Personally I think it was our best game of the season.”

York goalie Olivia Golini was called on for one save in each half. Her split-leg, left-pad stop with 1:11 left preserved her 15th shutout of the season.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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