Saints close home games with a win

Published 10:47 pm Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lady Saints senior midfielder Kelly Crossman duels with visiting Norfolk Collegiate during NSA's 1-0 Senior Day win on Thursday afternoon.

The seniors of Nansemond-Suffolk’s field hockey team left their final mark on Arthur E. Jones Athletic Field in a 1-0 victory over Norfolk Collegiate on Senior Day, Thursday afternoon.

“It’s a good way to go out,” said Lady Saints senior forward Julia Rapoport, who scored the game’s only goal.

The game saw action at either end of the field, but the Lady Saints had the edge with 11 penalty corners, compared to Norfolk Collegiate’s eight.

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After a scoreless 30 minutes, Rapoport fired in an unassisted shot five minutes and 19 seconds into the second half.

With less than two minutes to play, Norfolk Collegiate came dangerously close to tying the game with a frenzy of activity near NSA’s goal. Nevertheless, the Lady Saints kept the ball out of their own goal area much of the game, giving senior goalkeeper Tori Lauder a relatively light day. She had five saves.

“We came out focused and we came together finally as a team,” she said. “We’re really excited to play and it was a good game.”

Lady Saints head coach Ashley Skinner revealed what she felt made the difference in the game.

“I think they just came out more focused, because it was a day devoted to them and so that drove their excitement and got them really motivated for it,” she said.

She also felt her team showed her something in the game’s waning moments that it had been lacking for some time.

“We finished, and that’s something that we haven’t been able to do and so that was probably the most important thing,” she said.

NSA was allowed to proceed with a penalty corner just after the last seconds ticked off the clock and had actually earned another one in the ensuing action when, because they held the lead, the referee decided to call the game.

Aside from an assortment of illnesses and injuries, this season has involved a tremendous amount of change for the Lady Saints (4-11-1, 1-4-0) that has brought its own accompanying difficulties with it.

“I feel like we’ve been working hard this year, but we’re still growing,” Skinner said. “We’ve combined our JV and our varsity team this year due to numbers.”

The team has enjoyed the experience lent by seven seniors, but the roster is dominated by youth.

“It makes it difficult kind of mending that gap between ages and having them adapt to playing with each other,” Skinner said.

All of this has likely contributed to what Rapoport describes as a season with an ebb and flow.

“We definitely started out strong, and I think that was really good, especially compared to how past years have gone,” she said. “It kind of simmered out towards the middle, but towards the end we started picking our pace back up and we’re ending in a very positive way.”

Whatever the difficult circumstances may be, Skinner assures that they have not tempered her outlook for the team.

“I still have extremely high expectations for them and they know that, they work for it, and they know after each game, win or lose, what my expectations are,” she said.

The Lady Saints play the last game of their regular season Tuesday on the road against Hampton Roads Academy. They will then play in the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools tournament beginning the following week.