Lakeland High School's Amanda Regione and Carol Holland (11) dribble the ball during warm-ups before Tuesday evening's game against the Lady Warriors at Nansemond River High School. Nansemond River ended up winning 4-0, but the Lady Cavaliers showed marked improvement over previous meetings. (Melissa Glover photo)
Lakeland High School's Carol Holland (left), Morgan Fenton (11) and Amanda Regione warm up before Tuesday evening's game against the Lady Warriors at Nansemond River High School. Nansemond River ended up winning 4-0, but the Lady Cavaliers showed marked improvement over previous meetings. (Melissa Glover photo)

Improved Lakeland falls to NRHS

Published 11:02pm Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Lakeland High School girls’ soccer team faced off against cross-town foe and host Nansemond River High School on Tuesday night. The Lady Cavaliers fell 4-0, but their undeniable progression from last year’s one-win squad still shined through.

“It was a good game,” Nansemond River head coach Darryl Yandle said. “Lakeland has improved a whole lot. Coach (Matt Crowder) has done a good job.”

Crowder, who is in his first year leading the team, has led the Lady Cavs to a 2-2 record thus far. Though Tuesday’s loss dropped Lakeland to .500, he was still excited by the team’s competitiveness against the Lady Warriors.

“Nansemond River’s a good ball team. They move the ball well, they’re aggressive, but last year, I think that we got beat by slaughter rule against them,” he said. “Definitely a huge improvement from last year’s squad.”

The Lady Warriors were knocking on the door offensively during the first half, but were only able to get one in. In the second half, they rattled off the other three goals. For the game, freshman forward Alena Rivera scored twice, senior midfielder Sara Gallagher scored once and junior midfielder Emily Leverone put one in, as well.

Crowder acknowledged that his team made some mistakes it could not afford to make against what he considers one of the top three or four teams in the district.

“We’re still in a transition right now where we start playing well, and then, if we give up a goal or something, we get more defensive-minded, and we quit attacking as a team,” he said. “We’ve got a long ways to go, but we’re on the road there.”

With nine juniors on the roster, the team is not especially young, but it is just starting to learn Crowder’s concepts and ways of training. He expressed his confidence in the group’s strength from offense to defense.

“On the back line, we actually have four really good ball players,” he said. “I have a captain on the back line.”

He was referring to sophomore Morgan Fenton.

“In the midfield, Alexis Albright is definitely a player who’s a strong feeder and a strong player who always works hard, never gives up, always aggressive, looks to play the ball, looks to move it correctly,” he said.

Albright, a junior, feeds the team’s strikers, her twin sister Jamee and sophomore Julianna Durand, both of whom are also team captains.

“All our captains were voted by the team,” Crowder said. “And it’s actually kind of funny — the three girls that they picked as captains are probably the three girls that I would have picked.”

Crowder feels the leadership is there, but the on-field communication still needs improvement.

Opposing coaches from the last two games have offered praise regarding Lakeland’s renaissance, but on Tuesday, Crowder was encouraged to observe another group acknowledging it, as well.

“The (opposing) players, their coaches see it, and it wasn’t until last night that I actually thought (my) players could see it,” he said. “After the game, I had two or three players walk off the field and — because we play Nansemond River twice this season — and they said, ‘I can’t wait to play this team again.’”

Lakeland (2-2, 0-0) plays against host Woodrow Wilson High School today, while Nansemond River (3-2, 0-0) visited Norview High School on Wednesday evening.

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