“We knew we had to be intense and come right out of the gate at full speed,” Leavitt’s Ashley Mathieu said. “Cut to the ball, be the first one there, get the first touch every time. We needed to score early and often and keep up the intensity.”

Mathieu’s goal, the Hornets’ second of the game midway through the second half, proved to be the difference in the contest. Her quick reaction to a Sam Harden shot from outside the circle steered the ball past Winslow keeper Delaney Wood from about five yards.

“I don’t even know, I just knew I had to get a touch on it,” Mathieu said. “I love doing those shots, setting up at the stroke line and I can just come around and sweep it in. I had my eye on the ball and I just wanted to finish it.”

“Ashley has that quick release,” Ward-McLean said. “She had two or three in a row, but she put it right into the goalie.”

Mathieu’s strike with 17:33 to play in the game came barely two minutes after Leavitt first thought it had scored an insurance marker. On that play, back Chantel Eells fired a rocket from just inside the left circle that deflected into the cage off a stick. but the shot was waist-high into a crowd, and officials determined it was a dangerous shot and waved off the goal.

“If anything that made us more hungry,” Mathieu said.

It was a classic game between two traditionally strong KVAC programs. Winslow is back in Class B this season after winning the Class C state title a year ago, and the Black Raiders (4-2) are proving they are solid, no matter in which class they play.

“It’s the same thing every time,” Winslow coach Mary Beth Bourgoin said. “I was talking with Wanda before the game, and we’re both in the same routine right now, seeing the same opponents one after the other, and it makes for a fun schedule, very challenging, but also very interesting. We have to be up for every game.”

After the host Hornets made it 2-0, Winslow started fighting back.

“I’ve got girls who have a lot of fight in them, and a lot of determination,” Bourgoin said. “And what I told them was, ‘You showed guts, that’s what you showed.’ We were down 2-0, and what we saw in the last 12-15 minutes, that’s what you have to do for 60 minutes. It was a lot of gumption, and I thought they did a great job.”

The Black Raiders pulled within a goal with 6:09 to play on a situation similar to that on which Mathieu had scored. Jessica Greeley sent in a long shot from the right side, and Maddie Beckwith was unmarked down low and swept the ball through Leavitt keeper Hailey DeMascio.

“Just a little deflection, changed the direction of the ball,” Ward-McLean said. “On their goal, no one was on (Beckwith), she just came in, swatted at it and touched it. Changed it just a little bit.”

Winslow kept up the pressure, but the Leavitt defense was up to the task in front of DeMascio.

“Our three backs have just done a fantastic job all year,” Ward-McLean said. “With Chantel (Eells) leading in the middle, and Kaitlyn DeBlois on one side and Alivia Bubier on the other, they’ve just done a really good job of clearing those long hits that come flying through. And with Kierstin (Leclerc) playing a little more defensive for us this year, and she’s done a good job, and Alana Hartford. They all did well to get their sticks on a lot of opportunities Winslow had.”

There was little for the Leavitt defense to do in the opening frame as the midfield and forward lines controlled much of the play with quick feet and accurate passing.

“We played so much better today,” Ward-McLean said. “We passed so well, especially in the first half. We’ve really been working on making quicker passes, because we’d been hanging on to the ball too long. We’ve been working on that, making two-touch passes.”

“They cut very well to the ball, Leavitt did, and that was a very strong factor, they’re very fast to the ball, and we knew they would be,” Bourgoin said. “Once we got it together and realized we were going to do it better collectively rather than individually, it’s going to make a difference.”

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