WESTBROOK—The Blazes battled visiting Kennebunk through two halves and two OTs on Friday afternoon, Oct. 4: That’s 76 minutes of field hockey – and they all boiled down to a 1-1 tie.

“We knew it was going to be a close game,” Westbrook co-head-coach Rachelle Violette said.

One reason Westbrook knew that? Class A South is littered with quality squads. “Talking to other coaches, it’s like, I’ve never seen so many ties and overtimes in my life,” Violette said. “This season is crazy.”

Katie Champagne scored for the Blazes vs. Kennebunk. Adam Birt / American Journal

Another reason the Blazes expected a dogfight with Kennebunk? They’ve simply logged a lot of minutes on the field lately. “We had three games this week; they should be exhausted,” Violette said. “They looked exhausted today, and I was just telling them, ‘You guys should be tired.’”

Westbrook struck first in the outing: The Blazes capitalized on a corner opportunity, with Lily Ranco inserting to Morgan LeBeau and LeBeau feeding over to Katie Champagne. Champagne launched the ball airborne and found the back of the Rams’ cage.

“Champagne had a beautiful lift; it was just a great shot,” Violette said. “But Kennebunk’s defense was great. Their defense was shutting down every single thing that we had.”

Per Violette, the Blazes’ corners have improved this season. “I don’t think our corners have ever looked better,” she said. “Not necessarily today; our corners have looked better in the past. We’re still working on getting more shots off, but I judge a successful corner as: did you get a shot on net, or did you not get a shot on net? Today we did too much playing with the ball in the circle.”

The Rams evened things up midway through the latter half. Ruby Sliwkowski tallied the point out of a scramble, assisted by Alaina Schatzabel

The Blazes did nothing wrong on the Rams’ goal; the Rams simply did everything right. As Violette said: “It just was a good play for Kennebunk; they were fighting for it. Kennebunk fought very hard the entire game.”

Grace Wallace chases the action. Adam Birt / American Journal

The Rams churned up good offense during overtime: Early in OT1, the team fired off a shot following a corner – a shot from up high that by all appearances was headed for the back of the Blazes’ cage. Kennebunk even began celebrating.

Prematurely, as it turned out: The ball rolled wide.

“Kennebunk had a ton of opportunities,” Violette said. “On a positive note, I gave our defense a bunch of credit. [Kennebunk] finished with, like, four corners. So we’re very lucky that defense was able to keep it out, to end in a tie and not a loss.”

Westbrook earned their own close call with heavy pressure late – very late – in OT2. Barely 40 seconds remained when Mary Keef showed off her stick skills, turning a great spin move high on the right side of the Kennebunk zone. Keef fed the ball inward; it bounded across left, in front of the net, where Ranco and Rams keeper Haley Moody both dove for it. Whether Moody batted it away or it simply bounced out of reach, Ranco couldn’t convert on the difficult moment.

“LeBeau deserves a lot of credit,” Violette said, asked who played well. “She’s been playing better and better, the past few games. She’s just, kind of, taking off. And I want to give our goalie, Aria Brunner, a good amount of credit, because she’s improving every single game.”

The No. 5 Blazes, now 5-4-2 on the season, travel to sixth-ranked Windham (6-5) on Thursday, Oct. 10.

Chloe Grosso charges into the corner. Adam Birt / American Journal

Lily Ranco inserts on a Blazes corner. Adam Birt / American Journal

Mary Keef cuts toward midfield with the ball. Adam Birt / American Journal

Chadda Chhoeun harangues a Kennebunk opponent. Adam Birt / American Journal

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