SANFORD — Whenever Massabesic seemed to find some room, it usually was quickly crowded by one or two Sanford High defenders.

“They did a lot of double-teaming,” Massabesic Coach Michele Martin-Moore said, “and my kids were a step slower than they normally are.

“That one step behind is going to hurt you.”

It did.

Sanford pressured the Mustangs throughout and came away with a 1-0 field hockey win Tuesday in a Class A South quarterfinal at Goodall Park.

Makayla Garvin scored on a penalty corner in the first half.

The fourth-seeded Spartans (12-2-1) advanced to the semifinals Saturday against top-ranked Cheverus (13-2). The Stags beat Sanford 1-0 earlier this season.

That Sanford-Cheverus game was close, just like Tuesday’s – like nearly every game involving the contenders in Class A South.

“It’s anybody’s game,” Sanford Coach Diana Walker said. “We did well to beat Massabesic, but we have to step it up. The next one will be a little bit tougher.”

Sanford, which also beat Massabesic 1-0 in the season opener, made it tough on the Mustangs.

Led by tenacious sophomore forwards Emma Rutledge and Logan Champlin, Massabesic worked the ball up but rarely created good chances.

Sanford’s trio of senior midfielders Garvin, Shannon Lebel and Allison L’Heureux played a smothering style of play.

“We kept trying to push the ball to our strong side and their weak side,” Garvin said.

Massabesic got only four shots (all saved by keeper Amber Singleton), to Sanford’s nine shots. The Spartans also led in penalty corners 9-4, with the Mustangs not getting any in the first half.

“We played hard but you have to hand it to Sanford,” Martin-Moore said. “They played great team defense.”

The Spartans featured a me-and-my-shadow strategy.

“We were backing each other up,” Walker said. “If someone was pressuring the ball, we needed to have someone on the right side where the pass was going to go.

“That’s what we were trying to do – one come here and one over here – so when there was a pass, we could get them.”

And if the ball got by the midfield, backs Katie Johnson, Hannah Rossignol and Maya Joy were there for the stops.

Sanford’s defensive might turned into offensive opportunity, especially in the first half when the Spartans enjoyed seven penalty corners.

On the third one, Garvin took the short pass from Morgan Champagne. She lofted it over the Mustangs, where it bounced off a stick and into the net with 13:08 left in the half.

“I normally push the ball hard but I’ve been working on lifting it,” Garvin said. “I guess it worked.”

Massabesic, otherwise, played well on defense, anchored by keeper Kelley Wescott (eight saves) and backs Sebastiana Mosher and Morgan Pike.

Offensively, the Mustangs also got sparks from Maggie Redman and Abby Staples. But the Spartans held on for their fifth straight victory.

“We didn’t give it to them,” Martin-Moore said. “They won it.”

The Spartans celebrated briefly after the game. Walker gathered her team, told them they had to play better in the semifinals, then announced a two-mile run before Wednesday’s practice.

Sanford has a rematch with the Stags and must prepare.