WESTBROOK — After starting the season 0-3, Westbrook High’s field hockey team found its footing. Now the Blazes are one of the hottest teams in the Class A South tournament.

The fourth-ranked Blazes got two second-half goals from Lily Ranco and goalie Aria Brunner made two saves in the final minutes in a 4-3 win over fifth-ranked Cheverus in a South A quarterfinal.

The victory lifted Westbrook to 8-5-2 and into the regional semifinals Saturday against the Biddeford-Thornton Academy winner. Cheverus finished 7-5-3.

“W started 0-3 so we’re kind of coming back from a deficit all season,” said Rachelle Violette, the first-year coach of the Blazes. “They just feel like they have a lot to prove. So they’re coming out fired up from here moving forward because now is the time to show.”

This was about as evenly matched a game as you could have, both territorially and statistically. Cheverus outshot Westbrook 8-7 and had nine penalty corners to Westbrook’s eight.

Cheverus Coach Theresa Hendrix, who coached Westbrook the last two years, said the game played out how she thought it would.


“Every game is going to be tough,” she said. “Westbrook’s a fun one. They play with a lot of passion. And I think between both teams today you could see how far both teams have grown over the season and all the girls’ love for the game.”

Westbrook led 2-0 early with goals by Morgan LeBeau and Kaitlyn Talbot (both assisted by Katie Champagne). Cheverus tied it with two goals late in the first half, by Taylor Tory and Lucy Pirone.

Ranco gave the Blazes a 4-2 lead early in the second half, first scoring off a corner play, then on a rebound with 23:00 left. Cheverus responded with a Tory’s second goal of the game with 8:18 remaining.

At the very end, Brunner had to fend off the Stags’ final two corners, making saves on Lucia Pompeo each time. The first came with just over 4:00 remaining and Westbrook holding on. Pompeo got a pass from Isabella Cloutier on the right side of the circle and unleashed a hard drive. But Brunner shuffled over to make a pad stop.

Then the Stags were awarded their final penalty corner with 40 seconds remaining. Again, Cloutier found Pompeo on the right side. Again, Brunner, a junior in her first season as the starting goalie, came out to make the stop. Then the ball was cleared to midfield and the Blazes were able to celebrate.

“It got really intense,” said Champagne, a senior midfielder. “I was getting really anxious and I was hoping our goalie was able to kick it out. And she did what she needed to do.”

“She’s grown so much, I don’t have enough good things to say about her and how she’s progressed,” said Violette, of Brunner. “She’s really proving herself.”

As is the team.

“Each game we progressed to get out of the funk that we were in,” said Brunner. “We feel more comfortable now.”

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