GARDINER — Fear, it’s said, can be a great motivator.

There seems to be no other explanation for the way the Gardiner field hockey team’s season has played out. Slow start, fast finish.

It occurred again Tuesday when the top-seeded Tigers hosted No. 8 Nokomis in a Class B North quarterfinal game. The visiting Warriors dominated the first half and the Tigers were lucky to only be down a goal.

A different Gardiner team showed up in the second half and completely took over the game, scoring a pair of quick goals en route to a 3-1 victory.

Gardiner (14-1) will host No. 5 Maine Central Institute in a semifinal game Saturday. The Huskies upset No. 4 Belfast, 1-0.

Nokomis finished 8-7.

Jazmin Clary and Maggie Bell scored 52 seconds apart in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and Sarah Foust added an insurance score with just under five minutes to play. Alexys Dow scored for the Warriors.

“It’s something we’ve been dealing with all year,” said Jillian Bisson, who assisted on Gardiner’s first two goals. “We haven’t got the hang of what it is yet. They always play hard in the playoffs. I think today it came down to who wanted it more.”

The Warriors took eight penalty corners to Gardiner’s two in the first half, but in the final 30 minutes the Tigers held a 7-0 advantage in corners. They scored on one of those when Clary tipped in a hard drive from Bisson with 22:57 left to play.

“I just had my stick out there, I leaned and just tipped it in,” Clary said. “I was in shock.”

The Tigers’ second goal also began with a long hit from Bisson and a Bell tip-in. Two timeouts from Nokomis couldn’t stop Gardiner’s momentum and it continued to swarm the Warriors end of the field.

“I think we dominated the first half,” Nokomis coach Taylor Lovely said. “But the second half was the complete opposite. We weren’t passing to each other, our talking wasn’t there. They were in their offensive end the whole second half, which really hurt us.”

Gardiner coach Sharon Gallant remains perplexed about her team’s slow starts, but she generally knows what to do at halftime.

“I’ll speak to them in a little bit of an unkind voice and then all of a sudden they come out on fire,” Gallant said. “I spoke to each person individually at halftime. Each person had something they needed to fix, so I called each person by name and made some recommendations.”

Just a year ago, Nokomis came out of the No. 8 spot and knocked off top-seeded and unbeaten Winslow, a fact the Tigers were aware of.

“We usually don’t get fired up until somebody scores on us,” Clary said. “In the second half that’s when we really start getting (after it) because we know we only have 30 minutes left.”

The Warriors controlled the midfield in the first half behind senior Maci Leali, but despite their dominance had a hard time getting shots on goalie Lindsay Bell (two saves), particularly on penalty corners.

“Their flyer (Madeline Walker) was really quick,” Lovely said. “Every time we got a shot off she was able to stop it or the trailer was able to stop it behind her.”

The Warriors finally put one in when Leali fed Dow for a quick shot to the right of Bell with 3:23 left in the half. Katelyn Lessner played a strong game in goal for the Warriors, making nine saves, including two from point-blank range before the Tigers first goal.

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