OAKLAND — After a first-half filled with missed scoring opportunities the Messalonskee field hockey team found its range against defensive-minded Cony on Thursday.

The Eagles trailed by a goal at the half but came on strong over the final 30 minutes en route to a 3-1 victory.

Messalonskee is 4-0 in Class A North play while Cony is 2-2.

The visiting Rams got on the board just a minute and eight seconds into the game when senior Cari Hopkins poked home a rebound. Cony wouldn’t register another shot on goal in the half as the Eagles kept the ball in the Rams’ end of the field, picking up nine penalty corners with nothing to show for them. In fact, they didn’t register a shot off a corner until their seventh attempt.

“We were getting in our own heads a little bit,” senior midfield Haley Lowell said. “We just kept missing the ball. We said calm down, stay intense and we started off strong in the second half.”

Sophomore Chloe Tilley tied the game 3:15 into the second half when she knocked in a rebound and just over three minutes later, center forward Kaitlyn Smith put Messalonskee ahead with a reverse stick shot to the right of Rams goalie Jacki Carlton (six saves).

“The ball was there and I knew I needed to a get a shot off,” Smith said. “The defense was right there trailing me.”

Freshman Abby Breznyak scored with 1:24 left to play with an assist from Autumn Littlefield. The statistics went heavily in Messalonskee’s favor. The Eagles had 12 penalty corners and 11 shots on goal while Cony had three corners and three shots.

Two of the Eagles shots were stopped by Cony defenders including one at point-blank range by senior Olivia Varney in the first half. Along with Varney, MacKenzie Lewis, Danielle Brox and Alexis Couverette formed a tight defensive perimeter around Carlton.

“I’m impressed and proud of my girls today,” Cony coach Holly Daigle said. “Our defense was outstanding.”

The Eagles were able to control much of the action due their strength up the middle beginning with Littlefield in the back and Lowell at midfield. The pair, who have already committed to Division I colleges, were able to clear the ball by dribbling past defense or with long hits through it.

“They can control the midfield, they the ball really well and they have a lot of girls that have really strong hits,” Daigle said. “They got the ball up the field a lot with their strong hits.”

Despite scoring three goals in the second half, the Eagles were limited to just three penalty corners.

“Cony works so hard and they will out-hustle any team they see,” Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin said. “They pack that circle and they’ve got the skill to stop you there.”

The Eagles speedy front line of Tilley, Smith and Ally Turner had several chances turned away by the Rams defense or in some instances back back on a grass field.

“We’ve got to be able to play in any surface there is because we see every single one,” McLaughlin said.

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