Field Hockey: Lake Region continues to improve, even in loss to York

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NAPLES—The Lady Lakers are picking up important lessons this season – lessons about positivity, keeping the faith, persistence and knowing what’s inside their control and what’s outside it. This past Saturday morning, Sept. 8, for instance, the team dropped a 2-0 heartbreaker to visiting York after an official waved off what would’ve been a game-tying goal.

“It was unfortunate,” Lake Region head coach Pauline Webb said of the erased point, which came following a penalty corner. “We hit the ball from outside the circle. A defender hit the ball with her foot and it went in. It should’ve been another corner, and the official – everything happens so quick, and sometimes the official makes a wrong call, and he admitted it.”

“I tell the girls,” Webb said, “that we can’t control that, we’ve just got to try to get it back. The ball will bounce in our favor at some point, if we just stay positive and keep working as hard as we’re working.”

The Lakers admirably resisted heavy York pressure for long stretches throughout Saturday’s game, but Lake Region’s own pressure proved insufficient too, and the teams carried a 0-0 stalemate into the break. Nor could either side manage to get a leg up on the other for the first 12 minutes of the second half.

Finally, though, with 18:05 left to play, York snapped the deadlock, capitalizing on a corner opportunity. Bailey Oliver did the honors for the Lady Wildcats, giving them the advantage in a tight outing.

Just over two minutes later, York suffered a waved-off goal. That call audibly displeased the squad’s fan contingent, but whether it was the wrong call is doomed to remain unclear. Six and a half minutes after that, Lake Region lined up for their ill-fated corner – the one they nearly capitalized on, and that should’ve resulted in a do-over. Julia Murch took the shot, and was denied the tally.

“Today, we were really aggressive, and we were going to the ball,” Webb said, asked what when right, technically or tactically, for her girls. “We were stopping some of those hits. At the beginning of the season, we were a little more timid, holding back, letting the other team play the ball and then going for it. So we…tried to play that more offensive-minded play. That kind of gave us that momentum.”

“The end of the game, we took a defender out, tried to pull up with five forwards, to get a little more offensive power,” Webb said. “So we’ve got some strategies we’re working on.”

Still down 1-0, Lake Region continued to battle. So did York, however, and with just about four minutes remaining, Oliver doubled her day’s take with a second strike, this one on a rebound, leading to the 2-0 result.

The Lakers, now 0-4, have opened their season on a skid: They fell 2-0 at Fryeburg to start their autumn, then 4-3 at home vs. Poland and 2-0 at home vs. Freeport. They travel to Yarmouth on Sept. 10, then host Cape Elizabeth 12th.

To be fair, Fryeburg currently ranks first in B South, Freeport second and Poland fourth. York, typically a powerhouse, sits in sixth at the moment. The standings will shuffle around as the season progresses, of course, but it’s still safe to say Lake Region’s schedule was front-loaded with top contenders.

“Our first game wasn’t our best game; we kind of came out lull in our first game,” Webb said. “But we have improved in every game. We’ve had five positions we had to fill on the field, from last year – especially senior goalie. It is (a bit of rebuilding) when you have to put five players, one of them being your goalie.”

“But everybody’s learning,” Webb continued, “and I tell them, ‘As long as we’re getting better every practice, and getting better at every game – and this, clearly, today, was one of our best games.’ And I tell that that ‘Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce in your favor. We’ve got to control what we can control, and that’s attitude and effort. And the attitude and effort were there today.”

“When it’s our time, it’ll be our time,” Webb said.

Offered the chance to applaud some of her girls, Webb spread her praise around: “A lot of kids did a very nice job,” she said. “Our two backs, Emerson (Dinsmore) and Alli (Vogel) did a tremendous job out there. Julia Murch is just a workhorse. Paige Davis comes back for the ball; she sends it up. She’s playing forward, but she likes to come back and help out in the midfield a little bit. Some of our young kids stepped up today, who haven’t had much time on the field. Kendyl Ridlon played more aggressive than she’s ever played; Gabi Hall played more aggressive as a forward.”

The absence of a key junior forward, Delaney Meserve, also tripped the Lakers up on Saturday “She’s out with a little bit of knee injury,” Webb said. “It should be short-term. She’s got power and speed. So we had to put a younger, less-experienced player, Gabi Hall, on the field. But she stepped up to the plate and really played well. She did better than she’s done all season.”

“For us, it’s good, because we’re getting more of our kids ready for the latter part of our season.”

The Lakers kicked off last season on a 1-4 slide similar to the one they find themselves on this season. They battled back in 2017, though, ultimately assembling a strong, 8-8 run, Happily, they believe they can do the same this year, and look forward to rematching with the opponents they’ve succumbed to thus far.

“We see all of them,” Webb said, asked about facing off again with the Raiders, the Knights, the Falcons and (now) the Wildcats. “We’re excited. That’s what the kids say: ‘Do we get to play them again?’ They’re already ready for it.”

For their part, the Wildcats, now 3-1, host Gray-New Gloucester on the 10th and Fryeburg two days later. York best NYA 3-0 and Yarmouth 1-0 to begin the fall, before succumbing 1-0 to Poland.

Several dozen additional photos can be found here:

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com.

Lakers senior Paige Davis defends in her girls’ loss to York on Saturday.

Emerson Dinsmore of the Lakers wheels away from a looming York opponent.

Lake Region’s Chantale Symonds wrestles a pouncing Wildcat.

Alli Vogel charges forward for the Lakers.

Lake Region’s Victoria Ross collides with York’s Bailey Oliver, who scored both the Wildcats’ goals on Saturday.

Laker Julia Murch lunges, hoping to block a York ball.

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