St. Stephen's/St. Agnes 2, Foxcroft 1

Time had almost expired in Foxcroft's field hockey game against No. 1 St. Stephen's/St. Agnes on Tuesday when the Foxes created the scoring opportunity they had desperately sought all game. Trailing by two goals, Foxcroft senior Jessi Coil received a pass on a penalty corner and blasted the ball from about 10 yards into the back of the cage.

Coil's goal energized the Foxes, but it came too late. The host Saints held on to win the Independent School League game, 2-1. But judging from their response to Coil's goal, the Foxes might benefit from the seemingly meaningless tally later this season. After the game, the Foxes appeared confident they could beat St. Stephen's/St. Agnes if given another opportunity in the ISL tournament in November.

"It was really nice that we were able to get that goal," Coil said. "And I know if we had done that sooner, our intensity level would have gone up, and we could have put them away. Next time we see them we will. It's nice to know that we can."

St. Stephen's/St. Agnes' fast defense smothered Foxcroft's forwards for most of the game. The Saints (8-1, 5-0) used their speed to control the midfield and limited the Foxes to two shots on goal. But the Foxes (2-1-1, 2-1-1) saw a moral victory in the late goal.

"It definitely shook their team up a little bit," Foxcroft Coach Katie Kantz said. "I think the Saints give off this feeling that they're untouchable. It's nice to score on them. In the past two years that I've been here, we haven't scored on them. Now [the players] know exactly how important that goal is. It's all mental. If we got that one goal first, then it would have been a different game."

Foxcroft only practiced once the week before the game because all the players went on class trips. Kantz said the time off partly contributed to her team's "ugly" play in the first half.

The Saints took the lead with 18 minutes 49 seconds left in the first half when junior forward Micaela O'Toole won a loose ball in front of the goal and scored. Less than four minutes later, senior forward Lizzie Rupp was near the right end-line when she sent what she intended to be a crossing pass toward the goal. From a nearly impossible angle, her pass found the back of the cage for a 2-0 lead.

"It's always good to put a goal on the board," Saints Coach Marsha Way said. "You can play maybe a little bit more relaxed at that point. We can settle into our own game then."

With a two-goal lead, the Saints controlled the game with their speed. They seemed to win most of the loose balls, and they kept the ball in Foxcroft's end of the field for most of the game.

Kantz said Foxcroft has to adjust to the Saints' speed if they face each other again. That means "reading their passes and just intercepting their passes," she said. "We didn't set up in our positioning. We were just flatfooted. I know that next time we'll be ready."

Foxcroft senior Jessi Coil, right, collides with Cassie Pyle of top-ranked St. Stephen's/St. Agnes. Coil scored a goal but it wasn't enough in a 2-1 loss.