GARDINER — The first goal Maddy Beaulieu scored on a brisk yet sunny Saturday afternoon pulled the Gardiner field hockey team even with Lawrence early in the first half of a Class B North semifinal game.

The next one she buried helped send the Tigers back to the regional finals for a second consecutive season.

Beaulieu converted a high shot from just inside the right circle with 12:09 left in regulation to snap a 1-1 game and the top-seeded Tigers withstood a ferocious finish to grab a 2-1 victory before a large crowd at Somerville Field.

“It was intense,” said Beaulieu. “It was a battle.”

The victory sets up a much-anticipated B North final between Gardiner (14-2-0) and No. 2 Winslow (12-3-1) on Tuesday at Thomas College at a time to be determined. The Black Raiders finished off Foxcroft 2-0 in the other semifinal Saturday.

The Tigers and No. 4 Bulldogs (12-4-0) were tied 1-1 after an up-and-down first half, and they appeared headed for overtime before Beaulieu struck with the clock winding down in the second half.

Beaulieu, a senior midfielder/forward, took a pass from 25 yards out and dribbled into the top of the right circle.

“I had to go five yards and into the circle,” she said, “so I carried it in, had some room and went high with it. I went aerial. It looked like it was going high but there was nobody there and the goalie was too short to get it.”

The high-laser rocketed into the back of the cage, which touched off a raucous Gardiner celebration. Lawrence coach Shauna Robinson, whose team edged Gardiner 1-0 in the regular season, argued to no avail that the shot was dangerous.

“It is what it is,” Robinson said.

Added Gardiner coach Sharon Gallant: “There was nobody there. It was wide open so it’s legal.”

Gardiner protected the 2-1 lead the rest of the way but it wasn’t easy.

Lawrence, which jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Domi Lewis goal just 6:24 into the contest, pressured Gardiner goalie Kaylin Mansir (six saves) late and had a goal waived off with 1:13 left in regulation because of a dangerous shot.

The Bulldogs nearly pushed a ball past Mansir in the waning moments, but the goalie maintained composure in a chaotic final minute.

“It was very intense,” Mansir said. “I got twisted up like a pretzel there. I was on the ground and felt sticks between my legs, behind my legs, in front of my legs. I knew I had to squirm and the defense would get the ball out. My biggest fear was having it go behind me.”

It didn’t, and the Tigers advanced.

Lewis gave Lawrence a 1-0 lead when she scored off a penalty corner. Lewis took a pass from Macie Larouche and ripped it past Mansir.

Gallant then called a timeout to settle her team.

“I told them that it’s just one goal,” she said. “We still had 53 minutes left. I told them to relax, that this was no big deal.”

The Tigers answered 41 seconds later on a penalty corner, when Beaulieu took a pass from Nickyia Lovely near the top of the circle and beat Lawrence goalie Emily Tozier (seven saves).

“Most of the corners go to Nickyia Lovely since she is our strongest player,” Beaulieu said. “But the defense went right at her and she passed it off to me and I just hit it in.”

Added Lovely: “I knew the ball was coming to me but then I noticed a girl coming to me. I said, ‘oh my God’ and passed it off quickly to Maddy, and she hit in.”

Both teams had ample chances in each half to get separation, but Tozier and Mansir heightened the drama with several big saves.

Lawrence finished with eight penalty corners while Gardiner had five.

“We knew all week this was going to be tough,” Gallant said. “Lawrence is damn good. I think one of the pluses was having home field advantage. We got them here and that helped.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5618

[email protected]

twitter: @BillstewartMTM


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