FAIRFIELD — On Thursday afternoon, Lawrence got back to playing like Lawrence.
The Bulldogs had won eight in a row at one point during the regular season, finished with four losses and a tie in their final five games. Thursday was playoff time, and Lawrence dominated, holding Oxford Hills to one shot and earning a 1-0 victory in an Eastern A field hockey quarterfinal.
“We came out here pretty ready,” said senior forward Julia Lawrence, who scored the winning goal off a pass from Crystal Crowell. “We had been training very well on our practices, and practicing a lot. We had to come out positive, and that was about it.”
“I’m very proud of my team,” Lawrence coach Lisa Larrabee said. “I thought we played with a lot of heart, a lot of hustle.”
No. 4 Lawrence (9-5-1) advances to the semifinals, where the Bulldogs will face No. 1 Skowhegan (15-0-0) at 6 p.m., Saturday, at Thomas College. Oxford Hills, which also lost 1-0 to Lawrence during the regular season, ends up at 9-6-0.
Due to the wind and sub-50 degree temperatures, many of the fans were bundled up on the sidelines. The players, meanwhile, adjusted by running around.
“Our players that were in, we played a lot more, because we kept the heat on our body, and we were playing pretty good,” Lawrence said, laughing. “It was very cold, that’s for sure.”
The Bulldogs had the overwhelming advantage in shots (17-1) and penalty corners (11-2). They spent most of the game in their offensive half of the field, but barely missed connections a few times.
On their sixth penalty corner of the game, the Bulldogs came through. Oddly enough, the goal came on a busted play. The insertion pass went pass the intended receiver, but Crowell backed up the play and sent a pass into the circle. Julia Lawrence was there to sweep it in with 4 minutes, 11 seconds left in the first half.
“Crystal had a really nice hit,” Lawrence said, “and I kind of just picked my stick up and it went in. It bounced off the side of her pads.”
The Vikings got their one shot on an attempt by Tayla Semdberg with 2:35 left in the half, then took their lumps in a couple of scary moments after the break. Haley Wakefield had her head snapped back by a drive that was meant to go downfield. Later in the half, the fans gasped as Jesse Murch took a stick to the face and appeared to lose a tooth in the process.
Julia Lawrence had another shot go just wide with about five minutes left, and Dominique Lewis also barely missed on a tip-in. Oxford Hills got the ball into the circle twice in the final 15 minutes, and both times, Emily McLean drove the ball out.
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243