HAMPDEN — The Lawrence High School field hockey team was hanging on, somehow. The Belfast Lions were piling up corner after corner, shot after shot. But the Bulldogs weren’t cracking, playing the kind of defense that floated the idea that, with one break, they could steal a win Wednesday night and the Class B North title that came with it.

Then Belfast got a goal. Then another. It took 90 seconds for those hopes to be dashed, as Belfast came away with a 2-0 victory in the regional final at Hampden Academy.

“Bound to happen,” Lawrence coach Shawna Robinson said. “They’re very, very talented. I’m happy it was where it was. I’d love to win, but to keep them at bay a little bit was definitely a good thing for us.”

The fact that the game lingered scoreless into the second half defied logic. No. 3 Belfast (16-1-0) finished with 18 corners, No. 4 Lawrence (12-5-0) had five. Belfast fired 28 shots toward the goal, Lawrence had two. Bulldogs goalie Marian Zawistowski was superb, stopping 18 shots. And the Lawrence defenders were hard at work all night, working frantically to clear the area in front on corners and shots.

“Contain,” Robinson said, when asked what the plan on defense was. “But we’ve kind of done that all year long. Surviving, getting through.”

Many of the Belfast chances — a Kylie Nelson shot that beat Zawistowski but was saved by a defender with 29:26 to go, a 3-on-1 with 15:47 left — were perfect looks, and Lions coach Jan Jackson admitted a growing feeling of concern.

“It gets nerve-wracking, the longer that we go (without a goal),” she said.

The breakthrough came with 10:55 to go, when Cassie Jackson took a ball played in off a corner by Kelsey Mehuren and fired it home. The gap doubled with 9:25 left, again off a corner, when Nelson blasted a shot and Anna Baiungo was on hand to tip it in.

“It was relief,” coach Jackson said. “And I knew once we got one in, we’re good at coming back and getting another.”

Robinson knew it too.

“The thing with Belfast, once they get one, then you’ve got to be like ‘OK, another one’s coming quick,’ ” Robinson said. “That’s what we were trying to avoid, and they got another one in pretty fast.”

Lawrence had a final try at cutting the deficit in half, as a loose ball slid near the goal line with 5:52 left, but it slid past the line and out of bounds before a shot could be attempted. The game ended soon after, but Robinson said her team had nothing to regret with a runner-up trophy.

“For us to even be here was incredible,” she said. “They weren’t afraid, they kept their heads up and they just kept grinding. … I can’t say enough about them.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM


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