Leavitt likes to play with speed.
The Hornets made that painfully obvious to the York Wildcats in their Western Class B regional field hockey final Tuesday, and they're hoping to do the same Saturday when they face Eastern Class B champion Belfast in the Class B state final at the University of Maine in Orono.
But Leavitt (14-3-0) is also well aware that Belfast, a team it faced during the regular season, relies on the same set of skills — speed, quick passing and shooting.
"We need to contain their wings. They're pretty quick," Leavitt coach Wanda Ward-MacLean said. "We need to contain them and not allow them to cross the ball to the middle. Another thing, we can't give up a ton of defensive corners. Even though we play well in the defensive end, we want to limit their opportunities."
Traditionally, matchups in state title games feature teams that haven't played each other, either in a while, or ever. But this year in Classes B and C, both sets of opponents saw their rivals during the regular season.
"I think it's good, we know what to expect from them, there are no surprises," Ward-MacLean said. "But it's bad, because you might know tendencies too much, you might count on something and then they change something."
The Lions (14-1-2) won the regular-season meeting in Belfast, 2-0.
They also boast a roster dotted with title-tested players. The Lions won last year's Class B state championship against York.
"We'd like to score first. They might be a little in awe and have some butterflies," Belfast coach Allen Holmes told the Bangor Daily News. "By scoring first, it wouldn't let them generate any momentum."
"As far as being nervous, it might give them a little bit of an edge," Ward-MacLean agreed. "But, for us, because Belfast beat us earlier in the year, we want to beat them, but the pressure's on them to beat us again."
As for experience, despite starting only one senior, Ward-MacLean is confident that with a full season — and three playoff wins — under its belt, her team is ready to handle the level of play.
"At this point in the year, everyone should be playing a little bit older than their grade level," Ward-MacLean said. "Freshmen who are playing and sophomores who are playing, they've all played quite a bit this year, so they really are playing up a level."
Leavitt's strength on offense this season has been in its depth. Sadie Royer leads the team in goals, but not by a sizable margin, and there are threats across the front line.
"Sadie might have a few more than some of the others, but if they take her away or try to double team her, that leaves Bri (DeGone) and Cheryl (Fichter) and Emily (Shaw) and some of these other kids open, too," Ward-MacLean said. "That's what's really good about this team is that we don't have that one focus for opposing teams to try to stop. They have to try to stop everybody."
Holmes said the Lions have been led by central midfielder and captain Katrina Lapham, goalkeeper Julia Ward and forward Maddy Cummings, who is in the 20-goal range.
Both teams play their regular-season games on natural grass, but given the Hornets' speed, they don't mind the neutral site and the artificial turf underfoot.
"Our kids love to play on turf. They'd play on turf all the time if they could," Ward-MacLean said. "After playing on some of the fields we play on all year, they like the consistency. If the ball's bouncing, it's not going to take a weird bounce on you or anything. You do get a bit more backspin, and we'll have to be careful for that. But we practiced at Bates a couple of days, and we just played at Scarborough, too."
The Class B state title game will begin Saturday at 4 p.m.