Lakeland wins uncomfortably at NRHSPublished 9:52pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Spectators at the field hockey showdown between Lakeland High School and host Nansemond River High School on Monday got to see a game in which the Lady Cavaliers struggled to put distance between themselves and the Lady Warriors on the scoreboard.
Last year, Lakeland defeated Nansemond River 10-1 at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center in Virginia Beach. This year, Lakeland only managed to pull away late for a 4-0 win in both teams’ conference opener.
The reactions of the respective coaches to Monday’s game invert the expectations one would ordinarily have after wins and losses.
“I was not happy,” Lady Cavaliers head coach Tara Worley said. “I think Nansemond River played very well. They were very organized, and they were very aggressive and composed during the entire game, and we were not.”
“Overall, I thought it was a great performance by my team,” Lady Warriors head coach Ali Mowry said. “I thought we stepped up to the challenge of playing one of the best teams in the area.”
The reactions are a testament both to the standard of success Worley has set at Lakeland over the last decade and the progress Mowry has made with Nansemond River’s squad.
Worley has a large, experienced group of seniors from which she is trying to cultivate consistently excellent play.
“I think it’s something that I’ve been trying to prepare them for, the fact that you have to play the right way all the time, no matter who your opponent is,” Worley said.
If the opponent is weaker, laziness can be an issue, leading to a shock against a stronger team like Nansemond River.
“Then, you spend at least half the game, if not more, trying to get yourself into the style that you have to play to win,” Worley said.
She said she hopes Monday’s game “will be a rude awakening for my girls.”
While last year’s game was played on turf, where Lakeland plays best, rather than Nansemond River’s home grass, Worley would not allow it as an excuse, since her team trains for play on grass and has beaten the Lady Warriors decidedly on it before.
“I was just upset with us not making good decisions,” she said, leading to a close score for much of the game.
“The longer that score is close, the more they start believing,” she said of Nansemond River.
Lakeland sophomore midfielder/forward Shannon Leonard scored the lone goal in the first half. Mowry said limiting the Lady Cavs to a single goal in one half “was a big accomplishment for us.”
Despite the loss, she said her team met a key goal, saying, “We wanted to finish a full game with them and play ‘til we had nothing left.”
Accounting for the difference in score compared to last year, Mowry credited her girls’ hard off-season work.
In term of standouts, Mowry said, “I really couldn’t just pick one or two people. I thought from the front line to the back line to the goalie, it was an all-around team effort.”
However, Worley singled out a couple, saying Lady Warriors senior back Madison Janek looked particularly strong, while sophomore midfielder Jaclyn Mounie and senior forward Amber Daubenspeck played well too.
Mowry was proud of her team not just getting the ball up the field, but strategically working it up. She said the effort and intensity she saw in her girls needs to be repeated for the remainder of the season.
Lakeland’s second-half goals came from seniors Alexis Albright, Kristen Vick and Summer Parker. The Lady Cavaliers also managed 18 penalty corners to the Lady Warriors’ one.
NR senior goalie Brooke Street had at least six saves.
Lakeland (4-0, 1-0) hosts King’s Fork High School (2-2, 0-0) this evening while Oscar Smith High School visits Nansemond River (2-2, 0-1).