Gardiner’s Maggie Bell and Madelin Walker react after Bell scored a goal during a game against Belfast on Tuesday in Gardiner. Photo by Jennifer Bechard

GARDINER — Gardiner got off to a slow start in its regular season finale against Belfast on Tuesday, but as it’s done all year the Tigers bounced back nicely in the second 30 minutes.

Gardiner finally scored on its eighth penalty corner of the half with junior Maggie Bell tipping in a pass from Aimee Adams with 5:37 left for the 1-0 victory.

The win cements Gardiner (13-1) as the No. 1 seed in Class B North. The Tigers (13-1) will face Class A North No. 1 seed Skowhegan in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship game Thursday at Hampden Academy.

Belfast (12-2) had its 12-game win streak snapped.

After an evenly played first half, the Tigers came to life in the second, out-shooting the Lions 7-0 and keeping the ball in the offensive end of the field most of the time.

“The only complete game we’ve played is against Winslow,” Gardiner coach Sharon Gallant said. “We talk about it, I’ve changed warm-ups, changed our routine. That’s my No. 1 piece I’m trying to get a handle on.”

Gardiner gained five penalty corners in an 11-minute span but couldn’t get a shot past goalie Brooke Richards (11 saves). It also struggled to penetrate a tough defense led by seniors Amy Gaiero and Cassie Jackson, who each made saves of their own.

“We definitely are a second half team,” Adams said. “We might have been a little frustrated in the first half but at halftime we always pick ourselves up and we come out strong and we work as a team.”

Belfast coach Jan Jackson called timeout after the first five corners but it didn’t stop the momentum for the Tigers, who came back with three more, scoring on the third attempt.

“It was one of our corners plays and they just hit it to me,” Adams said. “I aimed for that back corner and Maggie was there on the post to hit it in. Maggie’s always there. She does such a good job getting there. She’s so quick.”

Both teams had some scoring chances in the first half. Belfast senior Lindsay Bruns and Bell each had breakaways that were stymied at the last second.

“My team played well, we just didn’t score,” coach Jackson said. “This is the only game we haven’t. This was a good pre-playoff game to see where we’re at and what we need to work on.”

Gardiner’s Maggie Bell takes a shot at goal while Belfast’s Hannah Sanderson tries to defend her Tuesday in Gardiner. Photo by Jennifer Bechard

The Tigers put three straight shots on goal with just under 11 minutes left in the first half, with Richards making two stops and Cassie Jackson making the third.

“I can’t believe (the ball) wasn’t over the line, or a stroke,” Gallant said. “You can’t have two field players laying on the ground and that it’s not a stroke, but that’s not my job.”

Coach Jackson said the ball was stopped by her daughter, Cassie.

“She fell but she did not touch the ball,” the coach said. “She said it hit her stick.”

The Tigers registered seven shots in each half and held an 11-5 edge in penalty corners.

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