WINSLOW — With three straight opening day losses to Winslow, the Belfast field hockey team had a built-in incentive Thursday in the season opener for both teams.

The Lions had a mountain of skill as well. It added up to a dominating 4-0 win for Belfast, which has high expectations for this season.

“We have a very strong team,” senior forward Kylie Nelson said. “It’s young but we all play club. We all work together, we play year round together.”

Nelson, who broke the school’s career scoring record of 49 goals last season, scored two goals and added an assist in Thursday’s game. An all-state selection a year ago, she’ll attend Division I Bryant University to play field hockey next fall.

The Black Raiders graduated some key players from the team that lost in the Class B state championship game last year and is looking to rebuild.

“We knew coming into it, it was definitely a tough opener to draw,” Winslow coach Mary Beth Bourgoin said. “They’re fast, they’ve got quick passes and they’re highly skilled. I’ve got some people coming back but I’ve also got some young ones and they’re learning new roles.”

The Lions put pressure on Winslow’s defense and goalie Hope Winkin right from the opening whistle. They outshot the Black Raiders 36-5 and, if not for an outstanding game from Winkin (21 saves), the score could have been much higher. Nelson put her team on the scoreboard 10 minutes into the game with a strong solo effort in which she dribbled past two defenders and chipped the ball into the cage.

“She’s so quick,” Belfast coach Jan Jackson said. “She has a little bag of tricks and she can mix it up.”

Nelson often flips the ball past her defender and runs around her to collect her own pass. She did this in scoring her second goal when she veered wide of two defenders and cut back in to beat Winkin cleanly. Later in the half ,Nelson drew two defenders again and flipped a pass to Anna Baiungo for an easy score.

The Black Raiders played better in the second half and put their first shots of the game on goalie Morgan Fernald (three saves).

“I thought the intensity improved with all of them,” Bourgoin said. “And that goes with just believing in themselves.”

Sophomore Cassidy Clark tacked on a goal with 15 minutes left following a scramble in front of the cage. Nelson could have scored five or six goals in the game if not for Winkin and two outstanding stops by Winslow defenders.

The Lions were more than a one-person team, though. They controlled midfield and on those occasions when the Raiders penetrated Belfast territory, the defense, led by junior back Kelsey Mehuren, shut them down.

“Last year we were young,” said Jackson, whose father Alan Holmes coached the Lions for 40 years and seven state championships. “I feel like this year we do have more veterans. We’re working on our passing game all the time and I was very pleased with that today.”

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