WATERVILLE — It was a spot for some teams, maybe most teams, to panic. But a quick two-goal deficit in the Class B North final drew a different reaction from the Gardiner field hockey team.

“When they scored the first two goals, it just got us even more pumped up,” senior midfielder Aimee Adams said. “We wanted to come out, we wanted it.”

Then the Tigers took it. Maggie Bell scored twice, Madison Farnham scored another and No. 1 Gardiner earned a berth in the Class B state championship game with a 3-2 victory over No. 3 Winslow at Thomas College.

“They feel, and they have from day one, that they’re destined,” said coach Sharon Gallant, whose team scored on three corners en route to improving to 16-1. “They have said, ‘This is our year.’ ”

Silver Clukey scored twice for Winslow, which finished 14-3 and fell short of another upset bid after toppling No. 2 Foxcroft 2-1 in the semifinals.

“We knew it was going to be a very well-played game and a very hard-fought game,” coach Mary Beth Bourgoin said. “We had a couple of miscues on corners, and I think that made a huge difference, but they’re pretty tough. They’re fast. They move the ball very well.”

Still, Winslow had the fast start, with Clukey netting goals with 12:43 to go in the half and then with 3:56 remaining before the break for a 2-0 lead.

The Black Raiders went wild. The Tigers shook it off.

“When other teams score on us, we just get more confidence,” said Bell, a junior forward. “We’re just like, ‘We have to attack.’ Just get the ball and go.”

“They feel that way. It gives me a heart attack,” Gallant said. “But they do absolutely feel that way. They’re very confident, they know they can score, and score a lot in a short period of time.”

The lead was gone by halftime. Gardiner scored first on its fifth corner of the game, with Bell knocking in a shot from the right side from Adams with 2:38 left. The Tigers got their next corner with 38 seconds left, and Farnham scored off of Maddie Walker’s insert four seconds later.

“We can obviously score when we don’t have a corner, we’ve done it before,” Adams said. “But we score more often on a corner, and we practice them so much. We practice slamming them in, we work so hard on corners.”

Having gained momentum late in the first half, Gardiner continued to feed off of it in the second. Walker sent the insert over to Adams to start the Tigers’ seventh corner, Adams smacked a shot and Bell tipped the ball into the cage for a 3-2 lead with 28:28 to play.

The Tigers scored on three straight corners, covering exactly four minutes of play. According to Gallant, that was hardly accident or coincidence.

“It’s been a focus for us this whole week,” she said. “I’ve doubled the amount of time that we spent on corners, because we knew, in these types of situations, we were only going to win by maybe a goal. It had to happen on corners.”

“If you can execute the corners, that’s a big thing,” said Bourgoin, who got five saves from Leah Pelotte. “And we struggled on that today.”

On both ends. While Gardiner scored on three of its seven corners, Winslow went 0-for-11, with six of those tries coming in the last 19 minutes as the Black Raiders pushed for the tying score. They nearly got it; Bodhi Littlefield carried the ball into the circle and toward the goal but had it poked away at the last moment with 11:45 left, and Winslow had a pass in to the left doorstep of the goal but Lindsey Bell (eight saves) ran over to kick it away with 9:55 to go.

Still, Winslow’s best chance came in the closing minutes. Clukey was in position to score her third goal when she was awaiting a loose ball bouncing left with 3:50 to go, only for a Gardiner defender to race over in time to break up the chance.

“Falling short today was really hard for us,” Clukey said. “It’s hard to take in. But we gave it a run. We left our whole hearts on the field. They played a good game, we played a good game. It was just…one goal.”

Clukey converted on a pair of opportunities early. She received a pass from the left and got enough of a window to knock a shot in with 12:43 left, and then tipped in a shot for a 2-0 lead with 3:56 to go.

The Black Raiders were rolling. Until the Tigers found an answer.

“We knew coming here, this is our game, this is our time,” Adams said. “We want this, and we’re ready for states.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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