FAIRFIELD — The good news for the Lawrence field hockey team Thursday was it was only Game 1.

Still, the Bulldogs’ 2-1 loss to Belfast was as disappointing as they come.

With the score tied at 1, the Lions secured a penalty corner with four seconds left on the clock after a Lawrence player was called for an inadvertent high stick. After coming up empty on 13 previous penalty corner attempts, Belfast capitalized when it mattered most.

Junior Lindsay Bruns took a short cross from Cassie Jackson and slipped the ball under the pads of Lawrence goalie Marian Zawistowski.

“We played Lawrence in the Northern Maine (Class B) final last year,” Bruns said. “So this was a really big game for us.”

Both teams graduated some key starters from a year ago when the Lions knocked off the Bulldogs 2-0 in the regional final, but their styles remain similar with Belfast looking to fast break at every opportunity and Lawrence steady on the back line.

The Lions used their front-line speed to dominate the early part of the game and got on the board when junior Hannah Sanderson poked in a shot after Zawistowski had been drawn out of position.

“Basically it was a jumble of people right in front of me and I saw the ball come at me and I hit it right in,” Sanderson said.

Lawrence coach Shawna Robinson called timeout shortly after the goal and her team responded with its best play of the half.

Macie Larouche started a fastbreak near midfield that culminated with a goal from Lexi Lewis. Nora Buck drew the assist.

The Bulldogs played more aggressively and controlled the midfield which didn’t necessarily translate into shots on goal.

“We have to get more offensive output as a team,” Robinson said. “We didn’t get a lot of movement. We can’t play defense the whole game and think we’re going to go far. We probably have the most difficult schedule around.”

The Bulldogs beat the Lions to the ball in the early part of the second half, prompting a timeout from coach Jan Jackson.

“Overall I was pleased,” Jackson said. “Obviously, first game jitters. I knew they would play us very tough which they did. We’ve just got to keep working and fine-tuning.”

The game plan a year ago against Belfast was to stop Kylie Nelson, the school’s all-time leading scorer. The void left by her graduation will be filled by several players.

“I think it’s the whole team,” Bruns said. “I think we’re going to have a really good season.”

Belfast goalie Brooke Richards finished with three saves while Zawistowski made 11, some of those on aggressive runs away from her cage. The Lions also had 14 penalty corners to Lawrence’s three, their last one the most damaging of all.

“I’d like to be going to 7 on 7,” Robinson said. “When you cause mistakes like that, bad things happen. You have to be aware of what’s going on around you. Four seconds left, be aware.”

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