AUGUSTA — The opportunities were there, one after the other, for the Cony High School field hockey team. And time after time, the Rams came away empty-handed.

Finally, in the second half, came the breakthrough. It was the only one Cony got. Thanks to their defense, it was also the only one the Rams needed.

Sophie Whitney scored 5:30 into the second half, and the Cony defense did the rest in blanking Edward Little in a 1-0 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A victory.

“We were doing a lot of things well in the field, I think our defense played really, really well today,” Cony coach Holly Daigle said. “Made some good defensive stops. … We just needed to capitalize on our scoring opportunities.”

Those were everywhere. Cony (5-2-2) finished with a 13-3 advantage in shots and an 11-2 lead in shots on goal but often saw the ball skid out of bounds or up against an Edward Little stick near the cage.

“We had some good offensive runs, moving the ball up the field,” Daigle said. “We just had a hard time finishing today. We didn’t have someone covering the post and the ball would go wide, just some missed opportunities. We’ll work on that as we prepare for the last stretch of the season.”

The Rams had a 10-4 advantage in corners, however, and on their first of the second half, the script flipped. The ball was knocked to the space in front of the cage, where a horde of Cony players swarmed to look for a rebound chance. After several whacks, a shot by Cari Hopkins went to Whitney, and the freshman forward rattled it home with 24:30 remaining in the game.

“We just had to get it in, get a score,” Whitney said. “I just had to shoot the ball. The left cage was open, and it happened. … It felt really good. Just having that one goal on the scoreboard gave our whole team a boost.”

The play was an example of the benefit to the chaos that corners can generate.

“Sometimes, it’s a scramble,” Daigle said. “We obviously try to execute a good corner every time we get the opportunity, but she got in there and had her stick down, and got a great play on the ball.”

The Red Eddies (5-3-1) had trouble cracking Cony’s defense all day but had chances themselves in the closing minutes. Kaylie Vallee had a wide-open, straight-on shot but fired wide right with three minutes to go, and Edward Little had its fourth and final corner with 42 seconds left but wasn’t able to mount a threat.

The Red Eddies didn’t challenge too often besides those stretches, and they spent much of the game trying to thwart Cony from deep in its own side of the field.

“I want to give their goalie credit,” Daigle said of Edward Little’s Delaney Mourneau, who had 10 saves. “Their team, they played really well today. They played great circle defense, they cut to the ball, they won a lot of loose balls. They played a great game today.”

It’s a reason why Edward Little came in near the top of Class A’s North region — and why the win goes down as one of Cony’s most impressive of the season. The Red Eddies had notched four shutouts in their first eight games, but the Rams’ offense, one that had scored 10 goals over the past two games, controlled the pace of the game.

Cony is now unbeaten in its last four games, but Daigle said the team has been showing her something all season.

“I think that we played a lot of great field hockey the first half of the season, too,” she said. “We had a lot of tough matchups that first half. So even though we maybe didn’t get as many wins in that first half, I still thought we were playing great team field hockey. And that’s what we’re looking to do.”

It’s the standard Cony has gotten used to, particularly after consistent playoff appearances and a trip to last year’s North regional semifinals.

“It is coming together,” Whitney said. “We just need to work together, pass and talk, and we could make stuff happen.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifant


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