NR girls’ season ends against Grizzlies

Published 11:15 pm Thursday, October 25, 2012

The 2012 Nansemond River Lady Warriors assembled for a relaxing, farewell practice session on Thursday afternoon. Back row, from left, are Katelynn Hodgkiss, Lauren Paul, Juliana Stewart, Brooke Street, Lindsey Hunter, Desiree Patterson, Madison Janek, Claire Janek, Christian Rangel (manager), Coach Ali Mowry. Front row, from left, are Elizabeth Gover, Jaclyn Mounie, Amber Daubenspeck, Shelbi Holloman, Taylor Flick, Sarah Lanthorn, Cali Valdivieso, Natalie White, Logan Crews, Kimberly Bates, Ashley Hiltabrand.

The 2012 field hockey season for No. 2-seeded Nansemond River came to a close Wednesday afternoon when the team lost 4-2 to Grassfield in the semi-final round of the Southeastern District tournament at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training center.

The Lady Grizzlies took a 1-0 lead in the first half. Senior forward Sarah Lanthorn responded with a goal that was assisted by sophomore midfielder Juliana Stewart.

Undaunted, Grassfield put two more in before halftime to make it 3-1.

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Senior midfielder Shelbi Holloman scored the Lady Warriors’ final goal of the season minutes into the second half with another Stewart assist. Grassfield put the icing on its victory later with one more goal.

“I definitely don’t think we played our best,” Lady Warriors’ head coach Ali Mowry said. “Grassfield, I think, had the better game. But I think it’s always harder when you know that we can beat a team.”

Previously this season, Nansemond River tied the Lady Grizzlies once, and defeated them in an overtime thriller in which Holloman scored the winning goal.

“We just couldn’t connect many passes on attack,” Mowry said of Wednesday’s game. “We had chances to score, I felt like, and when they had their chances, they capitalized on them.”

Mowry, who is in her third year as coach, was notably emotional about the conclusion of this team’s season.

“This is the first year I feel like I haven’t had any, I guess you’d call it, team drama,” she said. “The girls have really stuck together and it doesn’t matter which grade they were in. I had seniors getting along with freshmen, sophomores getting along with juniors. They just always found a way to mesh and we kept it together the whole season.”

Junior back and team captain Madison Janek echoed some of these thoughts.

“I know from last year, there were a lot of older, upperclassmen to still lead the team and I was a little bit more dependent on them, and this year I know we’ve all gotten closer,” she said. “I feel like we have a really nice, close team. We all get along really well, we all have a really good time together.”

Janek pointed out one of the reasons that this year’s young players meshed well with the team.

“We had a lot of starting freshmen, but they all came out really well-conditioned and well-prepared, so they earned their spot,” she said.

When it came to what Mowry would remember most about the team of 2012, she pointed to its unrelenting drive.

“Their all-out effort and energy — I don’t feel like we ever slacked on that this year,” she said. “They never really gave up on any games.”

“We have the hardest schedule to start with,” team captain Shelbi Holloman said. “We have the top six teams in the district to start, so usually we’re the team that starts out really good and we fade towards the end, and as a team we all fall. This year the one thing that we’ve kept is our team strong and we’re together, we haven’t broken down as a team.”

“We made it our goal to stay together and not have just little problems on the team that would make us implode and fall apart on the field,” Janek added.

The team’s goal in terms of end-of-year play was to get to the regional tournament, which it would have qualified for with a victory on Wednesday.

“But I think that the seniors have left a pretty good mark on the program, and they should be proud of what they’ve done and the way they’ve got this program moving,” Mowry said. “We want to continue to be a top contender (in the) district.”

Illustrating Mowry’s words, Holloman related the satisfaction she feels that in her final three years at Nansemond River, the Lady Warriors have consistently improved, going from fourth, to third, to second this year in the district regular season.