READFIELD — When Morse’s Bronwyn Morissette scored her second goal of the game with 25 seconds left in regulation, it turned a sure win for Maranacook into a sudden-death overtime situation.

But as we’ve learned by now, it takes more than that to break Maranacook’s spirit.

The Black Bears have 12 players in their field hockey program, and only 10 of them are healthy. They played the first 15 minutes or so with eight players, due to what coach Tanya Evans called two players “breaking contract.” Still, Maranacook had enough left in the tank to take a 3-2 victory Monday afternoon on Amber Ridlon’s goal with 1:50 remaining in the first overtime.

“We’ve been talking all season about being mentally tough,” Ridlon said. “We’ve had lots of adversity and obstacles. We just needed to get over the obstacle, and we pushed through. It’s awesome.”

Maranacook went with eight players for all of Friday’s season opener against Maine Central Institute and lost 6-0. On Monday, the Black Bears actually controlled the tempo while going 8-on-11. Morse hung two forwards by Maranacook goalie Bri Goetz, but the Shipbuilders couldn’t get them the ball.

It stood to reason that if the Black Bears fared well going 8-on-11, they would look even better with 10 players. That was the case, as Lindsay Jackson drove one in from just outside the circle off a penalty corner, and Ridlon cashed in the rebound off the goalie’s pads for a 1-0 lead.

Morissette tied the score with 2:37 left in the half off some nice tic-tac-toe passing from Kaylee Walker to Allison Plummer to Morissette. Maranacook then dominated the second half, out-shooting Morse 13-5.

The Black Bears looked like they had the game wrapped up when Jackson knocked in a shot from the right side with 7:18 to go in regulation. Maranacook had a 12-1 advantage in penalty corners, but that one for Morse came with 1:07 to go, and Morissette scored out of a scramble to send the game into overtime and send the Black Bears digging deeper.

“We knew maybe a week or so ago that chances are we were going to have eight,” Jackson said. “So we practiced hard, we kept running and running and running and running and running and kept conditioning.

“The mental toughness we have on this team is insane. We always tell ourselves, ‘We’re going to be all right. Everyone’s going to come back. We can do this. We can push through with eight people.’ And I believe we just executed as well as we could have.”

With 3:40 left in the first eight-minute overtime, Maranacook senior Whitney DuBois made a defensive save after the ball got by Goetz. It wasn’t clear whether Morse had touched the ball in the circle — if the Shipbuilders hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been a goal anyway — but Dubois made sure the Bears didn’t have to take that chance.

“That’s the extra effort we’ve been talking about all season long,” Evans said.

Maranacook made a run upfield just after Elise Linton had to leave with an injury. Morse goalie Bryanna Ringrose stopped two attempts by Rachel Castonguay from the left side, but Ridlon fired home the rebound from the right side.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” Ridlon said. “My teammates helped me out. We were really tired and we just pushed through it. This means the world to our team. We’ve worked so hard.”

“As a senior, it means a lot to me,” Jackson said. “At first, we didn’t think we were going to have a team with the numbers we had. We actually ended up almost playing a JV schedule. We told ourselves we could push through it — we could play this varsity schedule, no matter what our numbers were. We just all had the mental mind to do it.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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