She watched it take flight, batted it away with her right hand glove, and again with her left on the follow-up offer. And when the ball skittered behind her a moment after yet another save, she watched the defenders around her clear the line.

“Thank God I had my defense there to back me up,” Slonina said. “I try to use my stick and hands as much as I can (on those high shots). I’m trying my best.”

The sophomore goalie’s best — and freshman Kylie Leavitt’s topped-ball goal in the first half — helped the Saints hold on to a 1-0 field hockey win over Oak Hill in a matchup of two of top three teams in Class C South.

“It’s more pressure being up only just 1-0, because they can get just one in the net and it’s a tie game,” Slonina said. “It’s much more under pressure than getting two points ahead.”

But Slonina kept cool under that pressure.

“Our goalie kept us in, she made some outstanding saves near the end there,” St. Dom’s coach Brian Kay said.

“She was amazing,” Oak Hill coach Betsy Gilbert agreed. “She was on her game today. She’s a very good player.”

And then there was Leavitt’s goal, which spoiled an otherwise solid outing for Oak Hill keeper Abby Fuller, a shot Leavitt admitted wasn’t exactly what she was trying to do.

“It was totally an accident,” Leavitt said with a laugh. “I kind of jumped up and hit it between my legs, and it hit the back of the net. I’ll take what I can get.”

The goal came after an extended period of pressure in the Oak Hill end. A scramble to Fuller’s left popped the ball to the middle of the circle, where Leavitt attacked. The ball bounced awkwardly off her stick and bounded slowly toward the cage, and Fuller reacted too quickly, allowing the ball to slide between her pads and over the goal line.

Leavitt didn’t immediately retrieve the ball from the back of the cage. She didn’t know it had gone in.

“I thought it missed wide,” Leavitt said. “I looked around and saw it afterward.”

Hanging on for dear life against Oak Hill is something the Saints to which the Saints were accustomed this season. In the teams’ previous meeting just one week ago, St. Dom’s took a 1-0 lead, but the Raiders rebounded with two of their own to squeak out the win.

“It’s exactly what happened in our last game against them,” Leavitt said. “We were one up and they came back hard, and we knew they could do it again this time. We definitely went in with more intensity.”

Save for the Raiders’ flurry in the game’s final 14 minutes, though, the Saints carried play most of the afternoon.

“We were just out-hustled,” Gilbert said.

And late in the second half, “we had them penned in, but we couldn’t capitalize on the breaks we were getting,” Gilbert added. “We had a bunch of crosses in front of the cage and we missed on the chances to punch the ball right in.”

Leavitt’s goal at the 21:24 mark of the first half capped a strong start to the contest for the Saints during which Kay thought his team should have scored even more.

“I wish we could have gotten a couple more right at the beginning, that really would have made the difference,” Kay said, “but hey, a win is a win. At this point, we’ll take what we can get.”

Now 7-3 after several losing consecutive losing seasons, the Saints complete a tough week on the schedule against perennial power Winthrop on Wednesday, and Class C South-leading Dirigo on Saturday.

“We really haven’t seen the best of this team, which is a good thing,” Kay said. “The freshmen and sophomores are starting to get more comfortable, the upperclassmen, they’ve been here. Good things are happening.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.