Mt. Ararat’s Wyley Fitzpatrick jumps in front of a Messalonskee defender in Wednesday’s Class A North field hockey quarterfinal. Messalonskee won the game, 6-2. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

TOPSHAM – The Mt. Ararat High School field hockey team was coming into its Class A North quarterfinal riding a three-game win streak.

Messalonskee on the other hand, lost its last three games of the regular season, getting outscored by an 11-4 count.

The fortunes were reversed on Wednesday as fifth-seeded Messalonskee hit the road and took down fourth-seed Mt. Ararat, 6-2, in front of a capacity crowd at Mt. Ararat Middle School.

Messalonskee (9-6) will face top-seeded Skowhegan, 6-0 winners over Edward Little in other quarterfinal play, on Saturday. Mt. Ararat closed out its season at 9-6.

Messalonskee’s six goals was a pleasant surprise to head coach Katie McLaughlin, after only putting up one goal in its final two games.

“It’s something we’ve really worked on a ton. We haven’t had a game in a week and our last couple of games we’ve really struggled to score,” McLaughlin said. “So we’ve worked on it, worked on it and worked on it. It’s definitely an area of focus, so we’re really happy to see them pull that together and have it happen today.”

Autumn Littlefield provided all the offense the visiting team needed, netting a pair of first-half goals before securing the hat trick early in the second half. Her goals opened the scoring and set the tone for Messalonskee early.

A little over six-and-a-half minutes into the game, the visitors took their first penalty corner. Kaitlyn Smith tapped it to Littlefield and the senior blasted it from deep in the circle for the game’s first score.

Littlefield struck again as the passing of Annie Corbett and Rylee Poulin set her up for her second tally.

Less than a minute later, Emily Crowell struck home the third goal of the afternoon, giving Messalonskee a 3-0 lead.

Mt. Ararat’s Kelsea Dwelley, right, and Messalonskee’s Sarah Kohl both track down the ball during the second half of Wednesday’s Class A North quarterfinal field hockey match. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

“I think that was huge for us. Coming out strong and scoring those goals for us was one of our goals,” Littlefield said. “Start strong and finish strong. I think we played a full game of field hockey today at 100 percent. The start definitely sets the tone and gives us a lot of confidence with our team.

“We’ve been practicing a lot and I think today our forward passing was a result of a lot of hard work throughout the season.”

For Mt. Ararat coach Krista Chase, she expected a quality team like Messalonskee to bring its top game on the road on the grass field.

“Messalonskee possesses such strong stick skills that in the end, those fundamentals matter,” Chase said. “They do those reverse chips and high shots, so when making my decision on who will start in goal, I chose Emma (Lapreziosa), a taller goalie, and of course none of those first three shots were that way.”

The hometown team registered its first goal of the contest when Brea Holtet found the speedy Wyley Fitzpatrick. The junior forward sent it to the back of the cage to trim the Messalonskee lead to 3-1 with four minutes remaining until halftime.

Olivia Saucier put to rest any momentum the home team was picking up in the final minutes of the half when she beat Mt. Ararat keeper Lily Schenk (five saves), who replaced Lapreziosa midway through the half.

Messalonskee outshot Mt. Ararat, 5-2, and held a slim advantage in penalty corners, 2-1, over the first 30 minutes.

Five minutes into the second frame, Littlefield capped off her scoring, lifting a shot up over the outstretched Schenk for the score.

“She moved from a back position to center forward this year and that’s a huge transition,” McLaughlin said of Littlefield. “She is really bringing a whole new energy to our team. She stepped it up a lot of notches for these playoffs as she’s making the cuts and does a lot more for us, not just the goals.”

Hannah Huston put another tally on the scoreboard for Mt. Ararat. The sophomore scored on Messalonskee keeper Rylie Genest (three saves) after receiving a pass from Holtet after she gained control of a feed from Fitzpatrick.

Messalonskee’s Autumn Littlefield, left, drives towards the cage with Mt. Ararat’s Annie Wilkins defending. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

Freshman Francesca Caccamo rounded out the scoring for Messalonskee late to seal the win.

“It’s huge for us. This is a different place for us to come into the playoffs this year. It’s not typical (playing a quarterfinal game on the road),” McLaughlin said. “We needed to gain that confidence quick and make a statement out of this game. We really needed to show we’re still Messalonskee field hockey and we’re not done yet.”

For Mt. Ararat, not all was lost for the growing program.

“In my five years of coaching here, we’ve never scored against Messalonskee. To score two goals in a playoff game is a sign of our growth,” Chase said. “We’re still a program in transition. My girls are getting there, they really are. Our passing game, our sideline play, it’s getting there.”

Mt. Ararat will graduate a pair of seniors this season in Abby Hagan and Kelsea Dwelley, both starters that will be missed on the sidelines.

“We’ve had a really good season, it was really exciting to host a game as we came out here to compete against them as a team,” Dwelley said. “I will miss that team culture.”

“We’ve never hosted a playoff game, and to host such a good team like Messalonskee here, it’s really exciting,” Hagan added. “I know practice can get really tiring, but I’ve been with these girls since August, I’m going to miss all of them.”

Chase is pleased in the direction the young Mt. Ararat program is headed.

Messalonskee’s Sarah Kohl (12) prepares to shoot the ball towards the net as Mt. Ararat’s Holly Temple tries to stop. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

“We had a tougher schedule than we did last year. If you had said we will finish with the same record and host a quarterfinal game, I would have rolled my eyes,” Chase said. “I did not see that for this year, not that I doubt my team, but I know building a program takes time. We’re patient, but we’re also pushing really hard ahead.”

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