Leavitt’s Eve Martineau, left and Megan Nason, middle, team up to defend an Edward Little player during a field hockey game on Oct. 5 in Turner. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

TURNER — The Leavitt field hockey team’s defense has been together for a while.

Seven of the Hornets’ 12 defenders are seniors, and they began developing their chemistry before even entering high school.

“The majority of us have been playing since the seventh grade; we are all one group,” senior Megan Nason said. “We were undefeated our eighth-grade year, so that bond comes from practicing every day and seeing each other every day. You build a bond with your teammates.”

The defense has been near lights out this season, allowing only six goals in 14 regular season games. Leavitt (11-3) goes into the Class B South playoffs as the No. 5 seed and will host No. 12 Lincoln Academy in a prelim game this weekend.

“I didn’t know (how many goals we have given up) until last week, and all of us were really surprised because we didn’t realize how well we have been doing back there,” Nason said. “It has been a confidence booster to say, ‘We got this.'”

The group realized in the preseason that this season was going to be one to remember.

“I think in the summer we started to realize that we were going to have a good run this year, and we had those strong connections,” senior Cadance McDowell said. “As we progressed through the season, we had more wins (under us), we really started to see (how good we can be). I think the past two losses have done nothing but help us to see what we need to improve on in for playoffs.”

Four of the six goals that the Hornets have given up came the final two regular games, losses to Winslow and Lawrence.

LITTLE THINGS ARE BIG

Leavitt coach Wanda Ward-MacLean said the Hornets’ defense is successful is the players do the simple things well.

“They do a good job keeping their sticks down and being strong with their passes after they get the ball,” Ward-MacLean said. “They really do a good job on concentrating, keeping their sticks down.”

The defense also isn’t afraid of being aggressive.

“They double(-team) the ball and sometimes even triple(-team) the ball,” Lawrence coach Shawna Robinson said after Tuesday’s game. “We were trying to tell our kids, when that happens, someone is open, let’s get them the ball.”

Leavitt’s Megan Nason, left, tries to block a shot by Edward Little’s Megan Lachance during a field hockey game in Turner on Oct 5. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Leavitt senior Eve Martineau said the Hornets work a lot on their body positioning and teaching the underclassmen the team’s defensive play calls because they can be difficult.

TEAMWORK IS KEY

Goaltender Paige DeMascio, who has recoded 10 shutouts this season, is the communicator of the group.

“I try to make their job as easy as possible by letting them know where to be and when; who to guard, and when to get the ball,” DeMascio said.

Sometimes there is miscommunication between DeMascio and the defenders, but they are usually on the same page.

“(Paige and I) have had a couple of altercations, but we make it work,” senior Cara Jordan said with a chuckle. “There’s a lot of communication and trust there between (Paige and us).”

The defenders make sure they have DeMascio’s back whenever there is a battle for the ball in the circle.

“We stay on that ball to that last moment,” Martineau said. “Cara is really good; if it gets past Paige, she’s there on the (goal line). We never give up on the ball in the circle.”

After a stop, the defenders like to make quick passes to the midfielders and forwards to help the offense get going.

“We are just really good at stepping up and being there and getting the ball up to them,” Jordan said. “There’s a connection there; we always have our outlets ready to pass to them. We step up when we need to.”

GROWING TOGETHER

Most of the defenders got a taste of playing at the varsity level two years ago.

“We have a lot of touches back there in big games as sophomores,” Ward-MacLean said. “All those kids were starting on defense as sophomores. They have had two-and-half quality years of playing defense.”

Leavitt finished seventh in Class B South in 2019 and lost to Freeport 2-0 in the quarterfinals. That season was important to the growth of this year’s defense.

“It was about getting the experience,” Martineau said of 2019. “We always have had a big group. We played with each other well. It was about making that switch to (playing) high school (field hockey) and getting the chemistry together and experience.”

McDowell is one of the few defenders that hasn’t played field hockey since middle school. She switched from soccer to field hockey in 2019. The long-time players have helped accelerate her acclimation to her new sport.

“It was really nice to have all these girls who are so supportive and willing to go out and practice with me before that season started,” McDowell said. “(They) helped me to get to the point where I am today.”


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