Nicole Hamblin scored twice and Alexis Bessey what turned out to be the game-winner for the Phoenix as they upended defending Class B state champion Nokomis 3-1 in a bone-chilling Saturday matinee on the school’s Jay campus.

“One of the things we keep stressing as we go forward is to use our speed,” Spruce Mountain co-coach Julia Parker said. “I think these girls are really coming together as a team, and they’re working really well together right now.”

The win caps a solid week for the Phoenix (5-1), who faced perennial Eastern B powers Winslow, Oceanside and Nokomis in a five-day stretch. Spruce Mountain fell in overtime to Winslow, topped Oceanside in OT and handled Nokomis on Saturday to finish the stretch 2-1.

“Twenty-six seconds left in the second OT against Winslow was tough,” Parker said. “Oceanside was a great game, too. We just keep saying, ‘One game at a time,’ because we don’t know what to expect out of the other teams

Hamblin’s week was equally as good. The senior sniper found the back of the cage in the loss at Winslow, set up the winner against Oceanside and added two more Saturday for a four-point week.

It was her first one against Nokomis that set the tone for the afternoon. Less than two minutes into the game, Hamblin converted a feed from Patty Ryan to put the hosts on top 1-0.


“We always want to score soon and fast, it gets us pumped and it makes us want it more and more,” Hamblin said.

A strong start from an opponent is nothing new to the Warriors (2-4-1) this season. Unbeaten a year ago en route to a state crown, a younger Nokomis squad has been a target from Day 1 this season.

“We didn’t come out hard at the beginning, and the other teams are going to,” Nokomis coach Kristy Staples said. “As the defending state champs, that’s what the teams all care about. I think this group is a little bit like deer in the headlights when those other teams are coming full steam ahead right away, but you have to come out that way.”

The early goal didn’t rattle the visitors — they marched back down the field and scored eight minutes later to even things at 1-1 on an Emily Pratt shot. Pratt scored on a rebound after her own shot thumped off the pads of Spruce Mountain keeper Grace Ryan.

“She’s just a freshman, but she stays down and she just goes and goes,” Staples said. “She was aggressive getting that rebound.”

Seventeen nervous minutes later, Bessey pushed the ball into the cage after a save by Nokomis keeper Chelsea Crockett left a rebound on the doorstep to put Spruce Mountain back in front.


“We get more aggressive, every time we score, it seems,” Hamblin said.

Again the Warriors pressed back, spending most of the first 15 minutes of the second half on Spruce Mountain’s end of the field. Six consecutive penalty corners and seven shots at the cage later, the Warriors were still trailing.

“Their goalie was very good,” Staples said. “I liked that she was aggressive for them. That’s what I’m trying to get our goalie to do, so it was good for her to see that, but I think our forwards were a little bit intimidated by it.”

The flow of the game balanced out from there, and Hamblin added the exclamation point in the closing minutes, beating Crockett on a reverse stick with 1:36 to play.

“Even though that third one was so late in the game, it was a nice feeling to get it,” Parker said. “They weren’t giving up, they’re a strong team and we knew that was going to happen.”

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