GARDINER — Everything fell into place for the Gardiner field hockey team Thursday when it met Belfast in a battle of Class B North unbeatens at Somerville Field.

Mikayla Bourassa scored her first career goal midway through the second half and senior Sarah Morgan worked her defensive magic against high-scoring Kylie Nelson as the Tigers came away with a 1-0 victory.

The win wraps up first place and home field advantage in the playoffs for the Tigers (13-0), who have one game left in the regular season. Belfast fell to 11-1.

“I thought my girls executed their game plan perfectly,” Gardiner coach Sharon Gallant said. “For a couple of days we talked about what we wanted to do and I think they did exactly what we said we were going to do.”

Part of the game plan meant doubling Belfast players with the ball and another part involved Morgan shadowing the high-scoring Nelson.

“She’s been on me since sophomore year,” said Nelson, who has 25 goals this season. “I think what we have to do more is instead of passing the ball directly to me, we have to pass the ball off me because I can run faster than her. We can’t really do much when I get the ball directly passed to me because she’s right on me.”

There was seldom more than 10 feet separating the players when Belfast had the ball, although Nelson did have a couple of scoring chances.

“She’s such a great player,” Morgan said. “She’s really fast and has a lot of good stick skills. Usually I try to stay behind her so when she tries to turn to go forward I’m right there. Otherwise I have a great defense behind me, so if she gets by me I know they’re going to stop her.”

The Tigers controlled most of the play in the first half, at one point getting six penalty corners in an eight-minute span, but they managed just one shot on goal. Nelson had Belfast’s only shot on goal in the first half and it was a rocket stopped by goalie Avery Backus (five saves).

The Tigers held a 14-7 edge in corners and finally took advantage of one midway through the second half as Bourassa took a pass from Hailee Lovely and it trickled into the cage past Belfast goalie Morgan Fernald (three saves).

“It’s actually my first varsity goal,” Bourassa said. “I got moved to the yellow position on corners and honestly I didn’t really think I got it. I thought it rolled in. When I ran back one of my good teammates Sarah Morgan yelled, ‘That was yours!’ and I started crying. Last year I couldn’t play in the Belfast game.”

Nelson, who will play at Division I Bryant University next fall, had one more good scoring opportunity as she broke away with nine minutes left. But she was slowed by the grass field and caught from behind by two Gardiner defenders just as she reached Backus.

“Morgan I thought was on (Nelson) and took her out of her game for a little bit,” Gallant said. “She still had three or four really decent chances, but I think when you cut 20 down to three or four you have a much better chance. I thought she did that beautifully.”

The Tigers had a great scoring chance four minutes into the second half following a penalty corner. But Fernald dove from the left post to the right to stop a shot from freshman Haley Brann.

“There isn’t a single player that I could say did not play well today,” Gallant said. “I thought they just executed beautifully.”


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