AUGUSTA — It was just the way the Rams drew it up.

Senior Delaney Keithley scored off a penalty corner early in the second half, snapping a tie and leading No. 3 Cony to a 2-1 win over No. 6 Edward Little in a Class A North field hockey quarterfinal Tuesday afternoon.

Cony (10-3-2) advanced to meet No. 2 Messalonskee, a 9-0 winner over Hampden, in the regional semifinals at a time and date to be determined.

“This was huge,” Cony coach Holly Daigle said. “This year especially, there’s a really strong top eight (in Class A North), and you kind of look at the seeds and where people go in, and it really doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. We saw (Edward Little) not too, too long ago, and we knew the caliber of team they were.”

Like the only regular season game between the two teams, Cony and Edward Little were separated by only a goal. And like that game in late September, the Rams had plenty of opportunities but couldn’t quite crack the Red Eddies’ defense as much as they would have liked.

In the second half, Cony enjoyed a 9-0 advantage in penalty corners, testament to how much the home team carried the play following the halftime break.

Luckily, the Rams only needed to convert one of those to provide enough offense to secure the victory. That’s where Keithley, who had her influence on the game throughout at both ends of the field, entered.

Molly Silsby took the corner from the right side of goal, playing a pass to the top of the circle for Mackenzie Lewis. Lewis quickly slid the ball to Keithley only a couple of yards to her left, and Keithley uncorked a blistering shot across the slick grass that rattled the back of the cage just 5:09 into the second half.

“We were excited because that usually never happens in high school with the grass and everything,” Keithley said. “We spend 15 minutes on corners every other day. We really try and execute those, because they’re a huge advantage in the games.

“To have a great insert, great pass, great shot — it really came together and I thought it en-captured what we wanted out of the game.”

“The corner before that went just wide, and one of the girls on the sideline said, ‘Oh, that was perfect!’ I was like, ‘It was almost perfect,'” Daigle added. “Then we got the next one. There have been some games where we’ve struggled to execute on corners, but that one was just what we wanted to do.”

Less than a minute later, Cony’s Faith Leathers-Pouliot nearly added to the lead, collecting a long pass in front with her back to the goal. She spun and fired, forcing a point-blank reaction save from Edward Little goalie Emmy Lashua (four saves).

“I think a sense of urgency changed,” Keithley said of Cony’s ramped-up attack in the second half. “We got to take a minute or two during the half to talk about this could be our last game. We could walk off the field and not go to practice tomorrow, or we could work our butts off and continue to the next round. I think we got a hold of that in our minds and we translated it onto the field.”

Aside from some heavy pressure with less than two minutes remaining as the Eddies pressed, Cony controlled the second half in a way it wasn’t able to over the first 30 minutes of play.

“They seemed to have more left in the gas tank at the end. I think we ran out of gas a little bit,” Edward Little coach Greg Perkins said. “Hey, that happens. They’re a good team, they make good drives, and they get their stick on the ball really, really well.”

The Rams appeared to be well on their way to an easy victory when Kami Lambert scored just over five minutes into the game, converting Cari Hopkins’ redirect from the left side of goal.

Cony’s momentum was slowed by the Eddies, who were able to knot the score on Kaylie Vallee’s goal with 16:51 remaining in the half.

Once the game was tied, Edward Little enjoyed a long spell of possession in the Cony end but could not find a second goal for itself before the half. And once halftime came and went, so, too, did any Eddies’ threats.

“We’re excited to get this one, but it was definitely a hard-fought game between two good teams,” Daigle said.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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