AUGUSTA — A field hockey team can learn a lot about itself in a season opener, particularly one as hard-fought as Friday’s 1-1 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A tie between Mt. Blue and Cony.

Mt. Blue learned that finishing off a KVAC opponent requires execution. Cony learned it has a strong survival instinct.

The Rams controlled the first 16 minutes of action and took a 1-0 lead on Cari Hopkins’ goal after a pass from MacKenzie Lewis found her stick. Mt. Blue controlled play virtually the rest of the way, including most of the two eight-minute overtimes, but only had Hannah Minns’ game-tying goal with 17:06 remaining to show for it.

“Both teams had a lot of opportunities,” Cony coach Holly Daigle said. “I can chalk it up to both teams playing just good, solid, tough defense.”

“We were nervous. We came in really excited and they’re good competition,” Minns added. “I think we saw we weren’t working as hard as we could and we finally pushed ourselves harder because we really wanted it.”

The Cougars pushed Cony goalie Jacqueline Carlton to the limit. The junior racked up 18 saves in the cage.

“She played the best game of her career,” Daigle said. “I really couldn’t have asked her to play any better than she did today.

Hopkins’ goal came off a Rams’ penalty corner sent into the circle by Kami Lambert with 14:14 left in the first half. The Rams had five corners early and a commanding lead in the category before the Cougars tilted the field and forced Cony to fend off a flurry of penalty corners in the final 10 minutes of the half.

“In practice we work on a lot of defensive corners. We’re never afraid of the ball and we always go to it,” Lambert said.

Mt. Blue had nine corners in the first half, eight more in the second.

“That’s exhausting,” Daigle said. “I give them a lot of credit for just pushing through that.”

“We’ve been working a corners a lot,” Minns added. “We’ve got to get better at them.”

The Cougars’ goal came in transition, however, as Minns took a feed in the circle with three Cony defenders on her back, reversed pivot and fired to the lower right corner.

“I kind of just closed my eyes and shot it and heard it hit the backboard,” Minns said. “I had no (shot) other than to reverse it.”

“That’s a very difficult shot to pull off,” Daigle said. “That was a beautiful shot.”

The Cougars had the run of quality chances in the two eight-minute overtime sessions. The best came in the second when Hannah LeClair tried to redirect a cross in front of the cage but put too much behind the shot aiming for the far post and missed high and wide.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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