TURNER — Nokomis had 12 shots on goal, a 15-chance advantage in penalty corners and maintained possession of the ball inside the Leavitt zone for about 80 percent of Tuesday’s rain-soaked KVAC field hockey contest.

The Hornets had Sadie Royer. And for one day, for one moment, that was enough.

With less than six minutes to play in regulation, Royer gathered the ball inside the Nokomis end and weaved to the left side of the Warriors’ circle. She sped around a defender, passed across the goalie to herself and rattled the ball off the wooden backing of the cage for the game’s only goal, lifting Leavitt to a 1-0 victory.

“Honestly, when I got the pass, I was thinking I was going to pass it back,” Royer said, pausing slightly to wipe off her face as the afternoon rain dripped off her goggles. “Then I looked up and saw just the one defender on me. I did a dodge on the defender, and when I got to it, I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, and I thought I’d try a pull across the goalie. When I heard the ball hit the board, it was like, ‘Oh my God.'”

“That’s one of the prettiest high school goals I’ve ever seen,” Leavitt coach Wanda Ward-McLean said. “We talk about making moves like that in practice, we think about it and practice those one-on-ones, but she just got right up there and did that. She didn’t panic. She made her move and she put it in.”

Royer’s goal came less than a minutes after Nokomis had one of its better chances of the contest. At the trail end of one of the Warriors’ 15 penalty corners, sharpshooter Drew Graves teed one up from just inside the Leavitt circle. Leavitt keeper Sierra Santamango attacked the shot, and met the ball just as another Warrior was about to deflect the ball. She stopped the ball, and kicked it to the right wing, where the counterattack that led to Royer’s goal began. It was another frustrating miss for the Warriors, who territorially dominated much of the contest.

“Field hockey is a low-scoring game, and sometimes in low-scoring games, the better team does not win,” Nokomis coach Katie Thompson said. “It’s happened to us before. I think we had plenty of opportunities to score goals, we didn’t get a stick on it when we needed to. (Graves) had a beautiful shot on goal near the end, and we almost had it in, but the bottom line is, you have to put it in the goal.”

Santamango had plenty to do with that, as well. The Leavitt keeper stopped seven shots on goal, none bigger than her stop in the game’s final minutes.

“They had some great chances and Sierra played very well,” Ward-McLean said.

“I feel like we controlled play. We made smart decisions. We just couldn’t finish at the end,” Thompson said. “Their goalkeeper played an amazing game. We had some pretty good offers on her, and she made some pretty good saves.”

Early in the contest, Nokomis earned four penalty corners before Leavitt had a chance to play on the Warriors’ end of the field at all. The Hornets did manage one shot on the cage in the first 10 minutes of the game, forcing Nokomis keeper Kendra Underhill to make her only save of the contest.

After that, for the next 40 minutes, it was almost all Nokomis.

But despite forcing 15 penalty corners, none went for goals.

“They attack the ball well, and it seemed like we were waiting for them to get the ball and the trying to take it from them, rather than cutting to the ball ourselves,” Ward-McLean said.

Nokomis, the 2010 Class B state champion, falls to 3-2-1 on the season, while the Hornets improve to 5-1, with only a loss to Mt. Blue blemishing their record. Leavitt will travel to Erskine Academy and then host perennial contender Mt. View on Saturday, while Nokomis will next play at MCI in Pittsfield on Saturday.


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