TURNER — Talk at halftime revolved around overcoming and digging deep. It was the theme of the day Saturday for the Leavitt field hockey team and the school community.
Despite a valiant effort in the second half of its Western B semifinal, the Hornets came up short against Greely 1-0. Jackie Andrew's goal late in the first half stood up as the Rangers advanced to Tuesday's regional final.
"The kids played with heart today and they never gave up," said Leavitt coach Wanda Ward-McLean. "It's a hard thing to come back and do that. We've faced adversity all season. Unfortunately, at this time of the season, someone has to win and someone has to lose."
The Hornets (10-3-1) were playing with heavy hearts after learning that classmate Madison Daigle was killed in a car accident Friday night. Daigle's sister, Amber LeDuc, is a junior on the field hockey team. The game was nearly rescheduled but by the time school officials learned of the tragedy Saturday morning, it was almost too late to change the noon start.
"It's a hard thing," said Ward-McLean. "Amber said she wanted to come to the game. We knew we had to do it. We met early this morning and talked a little bit and bonded a little. We tried to move on. Even though it's not out of your mind, we tried to focus on the game."
Leavitt was able to do that but just couldn't finish its chances. Play was back-and-forth for much of the game. Greely (11-4) just capitalized on one of its opportunities.
"I say to my girls all that time that every ball counts, especially against a team as strong as this," said Greely coach Kristina Prescott. "Everything matters, and I think my girls are finally understanding that."
The lone goal of the game came with 1:46 left in the first half. Off a corner, Rachel Hanson put the ball in front for Andrew. She blasted a shot that hit the pads of goalie Taylor Eels and went in.
"We had some corners before that," Andrew said. "The whole team just felt this was going to be a good one. Rachel was the inserter and made a really good insert. I just moved it over and took the hardest shot that I could."
Leavitt's best chance in the opening half came on a rush when Casey Fichter sent the ball ahead for Adrie Newton, but she couldn't get a shot off.
In the second half, Leavitt played with some urgency and produced some consistent pressure. Greely helped the cause when Jessica Wilson was given a yellow card, leaving the Rangers shorthanded for five minutes. A hard shot by Kayla Royer from the top of the circle was the best shot for the Hornets during that span.
Late in regulation, Newton had a shot that went wide, and Morgan Shaw had a prime chance at the left side that hit the post.
"We had one go off the post on a cross," said Ward-McLean. "We had a couple others that I thought were in but they went just wide.
"I thought we put more pressure on them in the second half than they put on us. They had a couple semi-breakaways and a couple of other opportunities, but Taylor did a nice job and our defense did a nice job breaking things up."