SKOWHEGAN — A lot of teams in the state don’t have the defense to match Skowhegan’s powerful offense. Lawrence is one of the teams that does. On Thursday afternoon, the second half was a race to see whether Lawrence’s defense could hold on.

The Bulldogs almost did, but Lauren LeBlanc scored with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, then scored again with 4:39 left in the first overtime to give Skowhegan a dramatic 2-1 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A field hockey victory.

“We knew we were going to be in for a dogfight, and we were,” said Lawrence coach Shawna Robinson, whose team lost its first game to go to 10-1. “I don’t really know if there’s anything that we could have done differently, other than on that last shot, the back side of the cage was open. I’m happy with my kids. They didn’t give up. They didn’t let up. They’re tough.”

On LeBlanc’s game-winner, the Indians got into the circle and the ball popped out toward LeBlanc on the left side. Lawrence goalie Emily Tozier, left in a no-win situation, tried to come out and kick the ball, but LeBlanc beat her to it and pushed it in.

“I knew we had to win, so I just hoped for the best and went for it,” LeBlanc said.

Skowhegan (10-1) is still without star goalie Leah Kruse (appendicitis), but sophomore Kelsey Thaller made seven saves in the first half.

“I was really pleased with Kelsey,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “She gave it her all.”

Nevertheless, Lawrence became only the third team to score on Skowhegan this season (joining Messalonskee and Cony) when Hallee Parlin pounced on a rebound and drove it in with 8:52 to play in the first half. That completed a stretch in which the Bulldogs outshot Skowhegan 6-0 over three minutes. Lawrence entered the halftime break with a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard and a 9-3 advantage in shots.

Skowhegan came out a different team after the break. Including the overtime, the Indians outshot Lawrence 13-1 after the first half.

“I think Skowhegan stepped it up in the second half, definitely,” Robinson said. “They made a few adjustments at halftime — which we knew they were going to.”

“Even everything we’ve been through, we knew we could do it,” LeBlanc said. “We knew we could come out harder than we did in the first half.”

Doughty believed the presence of Rylie Blanchet at center midfielder was a factor. Blanchet had missed the previous two weeks because of a concussion.

“We haven’t had Rylie for two weeks, and this whole thing is a rhythm,” Doughty said. “With one person out of the rhythm for a while, you establish a new rhythm. It takes you a while to get back into it.”

In the second half, the Bulldogs did not get the ball inside their offensive circle until there was 10:50 left in the game. Naturally, that meant a lot of defense. Tozier made a lunging left leg save on Renee Wright, and later hit the deck for a diving save. Lauren Lambert waited on the right post and pushed away another shot by Wright, while Chelsea Ballard, Emily McLean, and Lilla Tilton-Flood all had strong performances.

“I don’t know how many defensive saves Chelsea Ballard might have had (in the first half),” Robinson said. “Emily McLean might have had a few, too. Defensively, we played good. It’s tough to come here.”

With 6:31 to play, Skowhegan was assessed a green card, but still earned a penalty stroke while shorthanded when a Lawrence defender stopped the ball with her body in the cage. Tozier stopped Blanchet’s stroke, but with 4:58 to go, Blanchet slid a pass over to LeBlanc on the left side on a penalty corner, and LeBlanc banged it inside the right post to tie the game.

Wright was knocked out of the game with an injury with 3:38 remaining and missed the rest of regulation. She was still questionable at that point, but was given the go-ahead during the five-minute break before overtime.

“Renee, the last two weeks, has been carrying this team,” Doughty said. “I thought, in the overtime, Renee was amazing, considering she’d just been taken out.”

Both teams have another big game on Tuesday. Lawrence is at Messalonskee (9-1) in a rematch of a 2-1 Lawrence win in overtime earlier this season, while Skowhegan is at Mt. Blue (8-3).

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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