The University of Maine at Farmington field hockey team beat Simmons 2-0 in the North Atlantic Conference quarterfinals. Now the Beavers face Castleton, the defending conference champion and the top offensive team in the conference. Game time is 2 p.m., today in Vermont.

Castleton has scored 79 goals this season. No other team in the conference has reached 50. The Spartans defeated UMF 2-0 in Farmington on Sept. 29.

“I think it’s important for us to play solid, strong, fundamental defense,” UMF coach Cyndi Pratt said. “I think we match up with them pretty good, but we can’t make mistakes.”

One key for the Beavers is capitalizing on their penalty corners this time around. In that first meeting, UMF had 16 corners, but only seven shots.

“Their defensive corner unit is very strong,” Pratt said. “Our corners have to develop faster than what they were on that day. I do think our offensive corners have improved since we played them.”

That first game was also on grass, while today’s will be on turf. The Beavers practiced Tuesday at the fitness center on campus, and planned to get in a one-hour practice this morning on Castleton’s field. Pratt said it’s rare for her teams to practice the day of the game, but this time it made sense because the team stayed overnight in Vermont on Tuesday.

Chelsea Morley had two assists against Simmons, giving her eight on the season, while Maine Central Institute graduate Meghan Hughes and Mt. Blue graduate Kaitlyn Bullen each scored a goal.

“We played very good in the first half,” Pratt said. “Second half, I think we maybe sat back a little bit. We probably gave up a few more shots and a few more corners than we would have liked. But it was enough to get a win, and this time of the season, that’s what you’ve got to do, is win and move on.”

Bullen leads the Beavers with eight goals this fall, and Gardiner graduate Kashley Weymouth has six. Rachel Preusser leads the Spartans with 24 goals and 24 assists.

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The Thomas men’s soccer team is also facing Castleton on the road in a NAC semifinal today. Thomas is 10-7-1 this season, and seems to be hitting its stride of late. Over their last six games, the Terriers are 5-1, with the one loss by a 1-0 score to Castleton in overtime.

Perhaps the main reason for the surge is that the Terriers are healthy again. Starters Michael Hand, Kyle Rabe (Lawrence) and Dakota Duplissie (Maranacook) all missed time this season, but each played major minutes in a 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Husson on Sunday. Hand and Duplissie have combined to miss five games this year and still share the goal-scoring lead for Thomas, with nine apiece. Sophomore Tre Ming has seven assists, which is tied for first in the conference.

Ironically, considering the earlier 1-0 score, Thomas and Castleton are the two highest-scoring teams in the NAC. But each has a defense led by a standout senior goalkeeper: Mikkail Crockwell (1.14 goals-against average, .802 save percentage) for Thomas, and Nate Koenemann (1.09, .775) for Castleton.

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Kents Hill graduate Katherine Bowie of Augusta got to be part of her first collegiate field hockey win Saturday when Siena beat Sacred Heart, 2-0. Bowie, a junior midfielder, assisted on Siena’s second goal of the game.

Siena had not won a game since Oct. 8, 2010 (a winless streak of 54 games) and had not won on the road since Oct. 6, 2006.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243[email protected]Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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