DEXTER – The four-time defending state Class C champion Dexter High field hockey team had its hands full with a resurgent Central High team during their Eastern Maine Class C quarterfinal Wednesday.
But the third-seeded Tigers overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat the sixth-seeded Red Devils 2-1 on junior Vanessa Hartford’s goal with just 1:23 left in regulation.
Dexter improved to 10-4-1 while Central of Corinth finished 4-9-2. The Tigers move on to the semifinals, where they will face No. 2 Winthrop Saturday.
Jenny Rollins had staked Central to a 1-0 lead 1:45 into the game and the energized Devils had several other good chances to extend the lead over the first 20 minutes.
But Meagan Fogarty tied it with 4:38 left in the first half and the Tigers controlled the second half, limiting the Devils to just three shots at goal.
“It’s our senior year and we didn’t want to go home. We played a great second half,” said Dexter senior left midfielder Kristina Temple, who set up the game-winner with a shot from the circle after Fogarty slipped the ball to her on a penalty corner.
“I just put it toward the goal,” said Temple, whose shot was kicked out by the left pad of Central goalie Kara Voisine but wound up on Hartford’s stick at the far post.
“I was kind of by myself and I just hit it,” said Hartford who put it in the short side.
Rollins had an opportunity to tie it in the last 10 seconds but senior goalie Cristy McGowen, who had played soccer her first three seasons, flashed out her left pad to save it.
“I drove it but she got her foot on it. It was a good save,” said Rollins.
Rollins had opened the scoring off a goal-mouth scramble.
“Chantel [Randall] gave it to me and I hit it in,” said Rollins of her six-yarder.
Central right wing Hilary Haney created all kinds of problems for the Tiger defense in the first half with her speed and stick skills.
On two occasions, Haney maneuvered down the right flank and slipped the ball across the goal mouth only to have teammates fail to get their sticks on it while facing half-empty nets.
“We had our chances but we didn’t finish,” said Rollins.
Dexter began playing better in the final 10 minutes of the half and it paid off in Fogarty’s goal off a quick counter attack.
“The ball was sitting in the middle of the circle and Nikki [Chapman] pushed it ahead to me. I put it in the right corner [short side],” said Fogarty, the state’s all-time leading scorer.
“They certainly outplayed us in the beginning. They were hustling and we weren’t. But we sure did bring it together in the second half,” said Dexter coach Sheila Truman.
“In the beginning, we were so pumped. We wanted it so bad,” said Rollins. “Then we got tired. They wore us out.”
Diane Rollins, Jenny’s mother and the Central coach, said her team, plagued by injuries early in the season, played “very well and have come a long way.”
McGowen made eight saves on 13 shots while Voisine made seven stops on 10 shots.