PITTSFIELD – If Allen Holmes is in the final season of his field hockey coaching career – a 27-year era that began with the founding of Belfast High’s team – then he is ending it with intensity and excitement, as well as surprise and humor.
After Belfast’s come-from-behind 4-1 win over Maine Central Institute Thursday, Holmes huddled with his players and told them a few times, “Nice job.” Soon after, he proceeded to make fun of junior scoring ace Sarah McIntire’s sweaty gloves.
But not before reminding his 8-1-1 squad of the teams ahead who it needs to beat for hope of home-field advantage in the playoffs. As one Lion repeated trash talk heard from one of these opponents, Holmes reiterated one of his maxims: “We do our talking with our sticks.”
The Lions showed what Holmes was talking about on Thursday as they broke a 1-1 halftime tie in the second period and turned a close game into a comfortable win. The Lions didn’t dominate, but they made the most of their time down around the Huskies’ goal.
McIntire led the way, sending Amber Billings an assist in the circle 3 minutes, 48 seconds into the second half and, two minutes later, sending Billings the ball from the left post, going down in the process.
McIntire scored her second unassisted goal with 5:43 left in the game. McIntire had tied it for Belfast at the end of the first half, scoring from the 18-yard line.
“In the first period we were lacking, we haven’t played in four days,” McIntire said. “We play each half like a game. Our passing improved.”
McIntire said the Lions’ position atop the weekly Heal Point standings is a surprise given the fact Belfast graduated 10 seniors last year, but McIntire likes the pressure.
“Every team wants to beat us. It’s kind of scary and it’s not scary. We want it more,” McIntire said. “We want to win the EM title and states. We want to do it for coach. Because he’s so inspiring. I think this will be his last year.”
Holmes will retire from teaching at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast next spring, but won’t say if this year as the Lions coach is his last – or he can’t.
“I’m taking it year by year,” Holmes said. “This year we’re young. I’m pleased and surprised where we are. Everyone wants to knock us off. That’s a coach’s nightmare.”
Lions junior Kristina Lane stopped 14 of 16 shots to earn the win.
Huskies’ Cassie Sullivan scored with 5:14 left in the first while Sarah Sinclair made eight saves on 12 shots for 6-5-2 MCI of Pittsfield.
JV: MCI 3-0