AUGUSTA — With 2:18 remaining and the Cony field hockey team clinging to a one-goal lead in a game that appeared all but over only eight minutes earlier, Faith Leathers-Pouliot took advantage of an Oxford Hills timeout to deliver a message.

The Cony senior stepped to the center of her team’s huddle, didn’t wait for head coach Holly Daigle to begin speaking, and provided all the inspiration the Rams would need to see out a 3-2 win over the Vikings in a Class A North quarterfinal Thursday afternoon. With goals from Mallory Audette, Anna Reny and Madison Veilleux, plus some big-moment stops from senior goalie Emily Douglas, No. 3 Cony (11-4-0) advanced to Saturday’s regional semifinal and a rubber match with No. 2 Mt. Blue after the Rams and Cougars split a pair of regular-season meetings.

“The message was that if you don’t leave it all on the field today, it could be the end of the field hockey season,” Leathers-Pouliot said of her impromptu speech during the final timeout of the day. “I know that’s really emotional for all of the seniors, because we’ve been playing together for so long. I know if I was an underclassman, I’d like it if someone stepped up and said that because those are the words I need to hear sometimes. I was like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to full send because you never know what can happen.’ ”

“Faith is a vocal captain, she has great field hockey knowledge and she knows how to motivate her team. When she talks, you listen, because she knows what she’s talking about,” Daigle said. “I don’t even know what Faith said — I have no idea — and I don’t need to know. I trust her whole-heartedly. In all honesty, it was probably exactly what I would have said.”

Cony High School’s Anna Reny scores on Oxford Hills High School during a Class A North quarterfinal on Thursday in Augusta. Staff photo by Andy Molloy

No. 6 Oxford Hills (9-5-1) saw its season end for certain when Douglas (seven saves) broke off her goal line to defend a two-on-one Viking rush, stretching out and somehow getting her right hand on Sierra Carson’s shot to usher it wide with just over four minutes remaining.

“If it’s a one-on-one, I try and read where they’re going to go,” Douglas said. “When it’s all clumped, you can’t really tell what they’re going to do. You’ve just got to be ready for everything.”

How the Vikings got to within a single shot of forcing overtime at the very least was something of a mystery, given they had failed to register a shot on goal in the first half and didn’t generate their first penalty corner until well after the midway point of the second.

“It’s been a trying experience for us,” said Oxford Hills coach Cynthia Goddard, whose team was missing three starters due to school disciplinary suspensions. “I think this group decided they were going to do everything they needed to do and leave it on the field. Sometimes you just have that turning point. You have a bit of a lull, and then all of a sudden someone says, ‘We’ve got to do it now,’ and that’s kind of what happened.”

Audette tipped home Julia Reny’s drive with 10:23 left in the first half to give the Rams a 1-0 lead at the break.

Oxford Hills countered and tied the game through Carson less than two minutes into the second half. But Cony responded well to the equalizer, needing just 100 seconds to get Anna Reny’s goal via a tip-in at the right post and reclaim the lead. Less than three minutes after that, Veilleux collected a Leathers-Pouliot pass in the circle, muscled through a pair of defenders and found enough room to build the Cony lead to 3-1.

Oxford Hills called timeout after Veilleux’s goal, but it did little to change the momentum in the moment. In fact, were it not for a brilliant save from Viking Madison Day (11 saves) on Julia Reny’s short-angle try less than a minute later, the Rams would have had the game well in hand.

Cony High School’s Sophie Whitney, left, hugs Madison Veilleux after Veilleux’s goal against Oxford Hills High School during the Rams’ regional quarterfinal win Thursday in Augusta. Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Julia Colby’s goal with 9:30 remaining cut the Ram lead to 3-2, and after a couple of promising flurries for Oxford Hills, the need came for Leathers-Pouliot to deliver her impassioned words.

“I was noticing everyone was kind of leveling out (with the lead), and with a team like this, they can easily put another one in,” Leathers-Pouliot said. “Once it got to 3-2, everyone realized how easily (Oxford Hills) could get transitions up the field. We needed to get more conservative.”

Douglas took it from there, keeping her cage clean the rest of the way to help carry the Rams into the semifinals.

“She doesn’t get rattled,” Daigle said of Douglas. “We tell her that if her instinct tells her to do something, then go for it. And she almost always makes the right decision and makes the big play. She had a great game today.”

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