OAKLAND — Veteran Mt. Ararat High School field hockey coach Krista Chase has coached against Messalonskee for more than a decade.

After the top-seeded Eagles handed the Topsham squad a 7-0 defeat Tuesday afternoon in a Northern Class A quarterfinal contest, one thing was clear to Chase: There is something different about this year’s Messalonskee team.

“I’ve been coaching against Messalonskee for 15 years and this is by far the strongest team I have ever seen,” Chase said. “They’re just solid. Their fundamentals are mastered and they execute their plays. Everything from their hits to their dribbles to their shots on goal (are done) with such precision.

“They’re really a force to be reckoned with.”

When the two teams met Sept. 10 in the regular season Mt. Ararat (3-9-3) packed its defenders in the circle and managed to keep it close in a 1-0 loss. Messalonskee (15-0-0) showed Tuesday that the same strategy would not work again.

“We definitely have been working on playing against teams that pack a lot of people in the circle and we’re just using different maneuvers to get around it, rather than just trying to, like, bring it on the outside and send it up to the stroke,” Messalonskee senior captain Emily Hogan said. “We were really focusing on sending a lot of shots and rapid firing against the goalie.”

It did not take long for Messalonskee to take advantage of the added pressure, as Ally Corbett was in perfect position to put home a rebound just 3:55 into the contest to give her team the early advantage.

“It’s just one of those things that we’ve tried to perfect. Right there, it was perfect timing,” Corbett said. “I saw the cage and nothing but the cage.”

Messalonskee continued to pour it on from there. Hogan scored off an assist from Haley Lowell with 18:01 remaining in the opening half, while Lydia Dexter’s goal with 5:17 to play in the first frame ultimately gave her team a 3-0 lead at intermission. Messalonskee controlled play for the majority of the half, as it held a 30-0 advantage in shots and 11-1 edge in penalty corners at the break.

“We’ve just really worked on our shot selection since we played them the first time,” Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin said.

Nathalie St. Pierre, Riley Field, Saige Knight and Corbett each scored in the second half to open things up for Messalonskee, which will play No. 4 Mt. Blue in the regional semifinal Saturday at a time and place still to be determined. The Cougars (10-4-1) upended fifth-seeded Edward Little 3-0 in their regional quarterfinal on Tuesday.

“We’re really just trying to focus on one game at a time when we’re in practice,” Hogan said. “We’re not really looking too far ahead.

“…(Mt. Blue) is a really fast team and they have some really strong center players. I definitely think that using a different style of play is going to come in handy for us in that game.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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