TURNER — If Ashley Mathieu took the time to glance over her shoulder before swatting the ball into the cage for Leavitt’s third goal Tuesday afternoon, it wouldn’t have counted.
The scoreboard at the opposite end of the field, dealing only in whole numbers, read all zeroes. But a referee’s stopwatch confirmed that Mathieu beat the clock by a whopping half-second.
It was the appropriate conclusion to a first half in which No. 2 Leavitt was the blink of an eye, the flick of a wrist, and the width of a sneaker quicker than No. 7 Freeport. The Hornets coasted home to a 4-0 victory in the Class B West quarterfinals.
“I didn’t even know how much time was left,” said Mathieu, who also scored the Hornets’ first goal of the game. “I just kind of went for it.”
Speaking of time, a giant coastal storm, forecast to cover part of four consecutive days, has created a scheduling quirk for the Hornets. They won’t host the semifinal against neighbor and new KVAC rival, third-seeded Spruce Mountain, until next Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Alivia Bubier and Sadie Royer added a goal apiece for Leavitt (11-3-1). Chantel Eells and Kierstin Leclerc each tallied two assists.
“The forwards cut to the ball,” Eells said. “During the beginning of the season we weren’t as strong. Our forward line was not as in shape as we are now. We’re getting stronger as a team.”
Given favorable field position by a flurry of early penalty corners, Leavitt cashed in at the 7:47 mark. Freeport goaltender Morgan Karnes kicked out Leclerc’s initial bid, but Mathieu steered home the rebound.
Leavitt needed only 78 seconds to earn another corner and connect again, this time with Bubier tipping it in after Eells set the table.
“With the weather, we wanted to come out strong, because you don’t know. We wanted to come out and make some good passing and get some shots on goal,” Leavitt coach Wanda Ward-MacLean said. “I thought we played really well in the first half. We made a lot of nice passes. We were under control. We went to the ball. We had some balls that went wide of the cage, that if we could have tipped, you know?”
Freeport (7-7-1) had a few forays on offense in the first half, but there were nine shots on goal prior to intermission, and Leavitt logged each one.
The ninth sent the Falcons reeling, although they bounced back and held the Hornets scoreless in the second half until Royer flicked one past Karnes by way of Eells with 2:34 left.
“It was deflating, to say the least,” Freeport coach Marcia Wood said. “We were struggling at the beginning with the pace of the game. Kudos to Leavitt. They’re fast and aggressive. I warned the girls, but they just didn’t react quickly enough to it.”
Addison Gagnon, Bubier and Eells were instrumental in the defensive circle, breaking up several Freeport opportunities early in the second half.
The Falcons took a hit when Abby Smith left the game with an injury moments after testing Leavitt goalie Ashley Kelly with a blistering shot off a corner. Hannah Williams and Chloe Davidson picked up the slack, however, just missing from close range.
Wood gave her team a spirited challenge at halftime about believing they belonged in the game.
“That’s what I feel like we’ve been talking about all year. There’s a reason you’re here. There’s teams that aren’t playing today. You’re good enough to be in this game, act like that,” Wood said. “I talk about the controllables. You might not be able to control their field skills and their stick skills, but you can control how hard you work and jumping to the ball. I think they did a lot better at it as the game went on. It was 1-0 in the second half.”
Leavitt already had done more than its share to take care of business.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we knew it wasn’t the hardest game we’re going to play,” Mathieu said. “We still wanted to be prepared. We wanted to come out and play strong from the beginning.”
“It gives us a lot of confidence going into it,” Eells added. “It shows us as a team that we can go pretty far, and we know that now.”
Kelly made four saves to protect the shutout. Karnes turned away 11 shots for Freeport.
And now, the clock goes from being the Hornets’ friend to an immovable object while we all wait out the rain.
“Hopefully we get to practice someplace other than the gym,” Ward-MacLean said.