WESTBROOK—Despite a three-goal performance by Morgan LeBeau and standout work in the cage by Kim Goddard, the Blazes fell to visiting Biddeford on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 10. Tiger Peyton McKeown also posted a hat trick – including an overtime game-winner – as her girls claimed victory 4-3.
“[Biddeford’s] a team that you can’t let down, even for 30 seconds,” Westbrook head coach Theresa Hendrix said. “We say the most important part of a game is the two minutes after you score. Unfortunately, it was twice today that [Biddeford] scored within that two minutes. It’s just making that adjustment for the next games to come.”
The teams played a seesaw battle all afternoon, each side earning forays on the attack and showing off respectable defense. Westbrook struck first: Roughly 12 minutes in, an Avery Tucker shot from the top of the circle trickled just behind Biddeford goalie Taylor Wildes and LeBeau snuck in to convert; Biddeford, however, needed little more than 90 additional seconds to even things up on McKeown’s opening notch.
13 taut minutes later, the Blazes jumped out front again. LeBeau – the girl clearly knows how to play position – did the honors this time, too, tapping home a shot her elder sister, Maddison, pulled the initial trigger on.
2-1, then, is where the score sat at the break.
Biddeford came out feisty to start the downhill half, and controlled the majority of the attack for a dozen or more harrowing minutes. Westbrook dodged a couple Tiger-striped bullets at the beginning of the stretch, then succeeded in pushing the play back toward midfield a bit. Biddeford proved determined, though, finally scoring their second of the day, a Sarrah Marcotte strike, with 22:58 to play.
“Our formation kind of broke down,” Hendrix said. “We started leaving gaps. [Biddeford comes] out strong; they’re a great team, their forwards are fast. So we were kind of just playing on the defense. We were getting it out, but not really getting it up, so we talked, had our forwards come back a little bit more, started moving up and down the field as a team. When you have the support for one another amongst the field, it’s a lot easier to move the ball up.”
The Tigers continued to press heavily as the game wore on. They generated a trio of corners and forced Goddard to turn crucial blocker and kick saves. Westbrook never earned a dangerous look themselves until 17:23. After that, they gradually began logging more time in Biddeford’s end, but Hendrix and her co-coach, Beth Murphy, obviously remained dissatisfied with their girls’ work, calling timeout with just about 10 minutes to play.
“We talked about moving up and down the field as a team,” Hendrix said of Westbrook’s conversation during the interlude. “Supporting each other. They listened: They’re very coachable, and they made those adjustments.”
The Blazes crashed the Tigers’ end upon returning to the field, and attacked viciously for maybe four minutes. Biddeford then fought back, looming on Goddard’s doorstep for almost as long. Plain as day, the contest remained up in the air.
It was Westbrook who broke the deadlock, capitalizing on a corner for the first time all day. With just 1:48 left on the clock, Morgan LeBeau smashed the ball in from the endline; sister Maddison picked it up and shoveled it forward for Alexis Witham to relay toward the net. Meanwhile, Morgan LeBeau had scooted over to her designated spot, and – once again – got her stick inside for the goal. 3-2.
“Morgan’s kind of been a quiet one, scoring this year,” Hendrix said. “Came up strong today: We asked her to be in one spot, she was there every time. Great field hockey player. It was great to see her have a standout day.”
The Blazes needed only hold on to secure a major W; Biddeford, though, had other ideas and – hot on the heels of a corner, the ball ping-ponging back and forth at Goddard’s feet – McKeown somehow slipped a game-saver home. 3-3 with only seconds to spare.
Sudden-death descended; minutes ticked away. In the end, it would be McKeown who ultimately sealed the deal: She completed her hat trick and reeled in a triumph for the Tigers at 3:16.
Hendrix applauded a handful of her players beyond Morgan LeBeau. “Maddison LeBeau, she’s been a standout all season, having her on that midfield defensive role. Our back defender, Kallie Cyr, had a few defensive saves. And Kimmy in goal – we’re always confident with her back there.”
Westbrook slips 9-4 on the result. The Blazes, who began the day ranked sixth in A South, and the Tigers (now 11-2), who entered the action ranked fifth, thus drop to seventh and jump to fourth, respectively. At this late juncture, every shuffling around of those numbers has critical postseason implications, given how much parity there is in the League. For example, Westbrook’s three losses came by just one goal each, 2-1 to second-place Massabesic, 3-2 to third-place Scarborough and 2-1 to fifth-place Kennebunk. But those teams are all vulnerable, too: The Mustangs are 11-1, having fallen 4-1 to No. 6 Thornton Academy (9-5), while the Red Storm are 12-1 on a 3-2 loss to No. ` Cheverus (10-3) and the Rams are 9-4 on a loss to each of the outfits ahead of them and one to Biddeford as well. Meanwhile, Westbrook actually toppled the Stags 3-2 back on Sept. 29.
The Blazes close their regular schedule on Wednesday the 11th, vs. South Portland.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.
Westbrooker Mary Keef dumps a ball from the outside inward.
Avery Tucker clashes with a Biddeford opponent.
Madalene Herbert carries upfield for Westbrook in their loss Tuesday to visiting Biddeford.
Katelyn Champagne pushes forward on the attack for the Blazes.
Westbrook’s Avery Tucker (16) hugs teammate Morgan LeBeau after the first of LeBeau’s three goals on Tuesday.
Maddison LeBeau fires a ball toward the center, hoping to set up an scoring opportunity for the Blazes.