Lady Warriors hang on for win

Published 9:41 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nansemond River High’s field hockey players left their bench and headed quietly to the adjacent parking lot after Wednesday’s game with visiting Oscar Smith. Warriors coach Darryl Yandle had consigned his troops to silence after a 2-1 victory that was nonetheless a lackluster performance.

Needing a victory to solidify second place in the Southeastern District, Nansemond River (9-3-1, 6-1-1) had every reason to play hard. Instead, the Warriors drifted about and were outworked by a less-skilled opponent. The first 10 minutes took place almost entirely in Nansemond River’s end of the field as the Tigers (8-3, 5-3) pounced on loose balls and raced back on defense.

“They deserve all the respect in the world,” Yandle said of his team’s foes. “They beat us in most every phase of the game.”

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Luckily, scoring wasn’t included. The hosts went up 1-0 when Lauren Daubenspeck swiped in a goal at the left post 11 minutes before halftime. Nansemond River took a 2-0 lead with 17 minutes to play when Meghan Folden slammed in a pass off a penalty corner, but Oscar Smith’s Meghan Stocks scored with nine minutes remaining to maintain the Warriors’ white-knuckle ride.

“I’m happy to have our ‘B’ team show up and somehow get a victory,” Yandle said with a wry grin. “We stood around flat-footed most of the game.”

Yandle is a vocal coach whose exhortations can be heard all over a field. But after the first few minutes Wednesday, he fell uncharacteristically silent.

“They weren’t listening so what good was it going to do?” he said of his players. “It was one of those days where whatever was said to them went in one ear and out the other.”

Still, Yandle gathered his team in front of a goal after a postgame handshake with the departing Tigers. For 10 minutes, he walked his players through various formations, trying to teach awareness that will be needed in the upcoming district tournament.

Should the Warriors defeat a weak Indian River team next week, they will likely finish second in the district’s regular season standings and face Western Branch or Hickory in the tournament semifinals. A victory there would guarantee berths in the tournament final and the region playoffs a week later.

“At that point, it’s one and done,” Yandle said. “It’s a good thing that wasn’t the situation today.”