GARDINER — The Gardiner field hockey team lost to Maine Central Institute in the B North final last year. It lost again to the Huskies earlier this season.

So when they met again Saturday, there was vengeance on the minds of the Tigers.

“We just wanted redemption,” forward Maggie Bell said. “We knew we could do it. We just needed to go (out) and kick butt.”

Gardiner goalie Lindsey Bell gets mobbed by teammates as times runs out of a 3-1 victory over MCI in a Class B North semifinal game Saturday at Somerville Field in Gardiner. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

With Bell leading the way, the Tigers got their payback. The junior scored twice, Aimee Adams added another goal and top-seeded Gardiner avenged its only loss of the season, beating No. 5 MCI 3-1 in the Class B North semifinals.

Gardiner (15-1) will meet No. 3 Winslow in the regional final Tuesday at Thomas College.

“This is a big deal,” coach Sharon Gallant said. “MCI’s a great team. … Their skill level is just exceptional.”

It’s a gauntlet that MCI (11-5) prevailed through last season on its way to a state championship, but coach Nancy Hughes said the Huskies didn’t play a clean enough game to keep hopes for a repeat alive.

“We didn’t cut to the ball well, we didn’t pass the way we usually do,” she said. “Not to take anything away from them, but we didn’t play the way we wanted to play and should have played.”

The teams played an even first half and went into the break tied at 1, but Gardiner came out strong after halftime. The Tigers earned four corners within a three-minute span and Adams converted on the fourth, getting an insert from Madelin Walker and burying the shot for a 2-1 lead with 25:10 left in the game.

“We practiced all week long hitting it into the corner,” Adams said. “I just thought about all that time practicing, and it went right to the corner.”

“We are definitely a second-half team,” Gallant added. “That’s for sure.”

That second-half push continued when Bell chased after a loose ball with an MCI player into the Huskies’ end, won possession, then ripped a shot that sailed into the netting of the cage for a 3-1 lead with 16:16 to go.

“I just saw the line of the circle, and I was just like ‘It’s my time to shoot,’ ” she said. “I was wide open, and I was like ‘I’ve got to do it.’ ”

Gardiner’s Madelin Walker, left, tries to keep MCI’s Vivian Duncombe away from the cage during a Class B North semifinal game Saturday at Somerville Field in Gardiner. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

MCI didn’t give in, earning six more corners, and even got an excellent look when Ella Louder smacked a shot off a feed from Jillian Frost, but Gardiner goalie Lindsey Bell made a lunging stick save for one of her three stops with 9:15 to go.

Gardiner went ahead with 22:51 left in the first half when it crashed in on the goal and Maggie Bell got the ball and knocked it into the cage. MCI answered with 15:30 to go when Gracie Moore chased down a ball rolling away from the cage and lifted a tight-angle shot from the right past Lindsey Bell and in.

“She’s only a freshman, and she’s really come on,” said Hughes, who got eight saves from Ashley Souliere. “She plays our center mid, but she’s a really strong presence in the circle, she’s aggressive in the circle. Unfortunately, we didn’t get as many opportunities as we would have liked.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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