OAKLAND — For all the winning the Cony field hockey team has done in recent years, it’s been a while since it could call itself regional champions.

The Rams can say that now — and they can say they got there with a performance suited for this stage after defeating previously unbeaten Belfast 3-0 in the Class B North final Thursday afternoon at Messalonskee High School.  

No. 2 Cony (15-1-1) earned its first regional title since 1995. Cony will play Freeport (13-3-1) in the Class B final Saturday at Lewiston High School. Belfast finished 16-1.

“From the first day of the season, these girls have had the attitude of, ‘we’re going to states,’” said Cony head coach Holly Daigle. “It wasn’t ‘we want to’ or ‘we hope to,’ it was, ‘we’re going.’ They’ve had this as their goal all season long, and today, they played like they belong in the state game.”

The Rams got two goals and an assist from Caroline Hendrickson and a goal from Helen Dineen to avenge their only loss this season. Belfast defeated Cony 4-1 on Oct. 3. 

Top-ranked Belfast got a series of three penalty corners early in the game, but a some strong defensive plays (particularly by Cony’s Maci Freeman) kept the Lions off the board. The Rams took heed of the early warning signs, picking up possession and pushing the ball into the Belfast half.


With five minutes left in the opening quarter, Cony picked up two of its own corners in quick succession. The second of those would yield gold for the Rams as Hendrickson found herself with open space, received a pass from Freeman and fired a shot past Belfast’s Nikki Shorey to put Cony up 1-0.

“That was weird because, usually, we’ll practice that wholeheartedly; we’ll practice going to stroke at that time, but it’s usually never open for us,” Hendrickson said. “This time, I was open, Maci hit me at that time with a perfect pass, and it was beautiful with the right timing and everything.”

Not content to sit on the lead, the Rams continued to apply pressure late in the first quarter and throughout the second, weathering a brief spell from Belfast in the process. Then, with 2:30 left in the half, Dineen poked a pass from Hendrickson past Shorey to double Cony’s advantage.

Cony field hockey players, from left, Casey Monson, Kate Morin, Abby Morrill, Caroline Hendrickson and Avery Maxim, celebrate after the Rams defeated Belfast 3-0 in the Class B North title game Thursday at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Belfast came out aggressive in the third quarter but was unable to muster up a shot on goal against a stout Cony defense. With 6:56 left in the quarter, Hendrickson scored a third goal that sent the Ram faithful into raptures and seemed to demoralize a stunned Belfast side.

“That one really did not feel real,” Hendrickson said. “I’m not much of a scorer, so honestly, none of this feels real to me. … I just feel so proud. We did this as a team, we did this for Cony field hockey, we did this for Cony High School — everything. We really wanted this, and we did it.”

Belfast increased the pressure in the final quarter but was still unable to come up with a goal. That was the result of a remarkable defensive performance from Cony, which shut out a Lions team that had been averaging 6.4 goals per game .


“One of our focuses was defensively because, when we played the first time, I don’t think we were ready for them,” Daigle said. “They have good ball-handlers, they pass well, and they’re quick, and I don’t think we were ready for that. Today, we were ready for it, and we were able to stop them.”

Perhaps even more impressive than what Cony did defensively, though, was what it did on the offensive end. The Rams’ three goals came against a Belfast team that had given up just seven all season and hadn’t conceded more than one in a game prior to Tuesday’s semifinal win over Leavitt.

Cony did so just hours after the school went into lockdown around 11:45 a.m. Thursday as Augusta school administrators and police investigated reports of a weapon on campus. The situation was ultimately resolved with Augusta Deputy Police Chief Kevin Lully citing “no threat to students, staff or the community.”

Cony’s Abby Morrill, right, and Belfast’s Halle Tarbox compete for the ball during the B North field hockey title game Thursday at Messakonskee High School in Oakland. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

It was a situation, Hendrickson said, that could have thrown a wrench into the game’s energy and mood entering the biggest game of the year. If there were any such trepidations, though, they were brushed aside quickly as Cony, which outshot Belfast 10-4, took complete control of the game.

“Honestly, on the bus ride here, I was really scared that our whole mojo was going to be off, but we didn’t let that happen,” Hendrickson said. “We said, ‘We’re going to focus, we’re going to brush it off, and we’re going to play a really great game of field hockey,’ and that’s what we did.”

Just as the Rams ended a 28-year regional title drought Thursday, they can end another Saturday by matching the 1995 team’s state title game win. They’ll face Freeport, which is in the state final for a second straight season. The Falcons fell to Lawrence in the 2022 Class B final. Freeport has never won a state title.

It will be Daigle’s first time in a state title game, too, after playing for Cony in the late 1990s and coaching the team since 2010. Thursday marked her first time in a regional final as a player or coach since playing for the Rams’ Class A Eastern Maine championship runner-up team in 1997.

Earlier in the season, Hendrickson said, Daigle showed Cony’s players her runner-up medal from that season. They’d love nothing more than to give her a state one on Saturday after a regional championship game that Freeman said felt more like a springboard than a finale.

“We have a solid team of many amazing talents, and that teamwork is what got us here,” Freeman said. “It feels amazing, and it feels like the start of something great.”

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