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Bangor Daily News
2 sophomores lead Belfast to field hockey win over Nokomis in battle of unbeatens
By Larry Mahoney,
NEWPORT, Maine – The Belfast High School Lions and Nokomis High School Warriors showed why they are two of the top contenders in Class B North as the undefeated field hockey teams squared off in Newport on Monday.
And it was a pair of sophomores who enabled Belfast to pull out a 1-0 win as forward Payton Wadsworth scored with 13:14 left in the game and goalkeeper Nikki Shorey preserved the win with a diving save off Nokomis standout Madeleine Roundy eight minutes later.
Belfast is now 9-0 while Nokomis fell to 6-1.
“It’s very hard to win here. We knew that coming in,” said Belfast coach Jan Jackson. “They always play us like a championship [game]. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
After a first half in which the Lions, averaging 8.75 goals per game, failed to put a shot on Nokomis goalie Eliya Drummond, Jackson said she made some small adjustments at halftime and it showed in the second half.
“We came out and played with more urgency and tried to possess the ball [more] and work our passing,”said Jackson.
“We’ve always been a second half team,” said Wadsworth, whose goal was set up by junior forward Ava Markham.
Markham sprinted into the circle from the right wing and slid a pass across a crowded goalmouth to the middle of the circle near the penalty stroke spot.
“There is always somewhere there to tap it in and it happened to be me,” said Wadsworth, whose initial shot was saved nicely by Drummond.
“I had a quick flick and it went into [Drummond] and the ball came back to me,” said Wadsworth, who swept the rebound into the far corner.
The Warriors pressed for the equalizer and Roundy teed up a blistering shot from the top of the circle that was labeled for the corner of the cage to Shorey’s right.
But Shorey dove across to her right and knocked it away with her arms.
“I made sure my angle was right and I tried to make sure I cleared it to the side,” said Shorey.
Roundy said she thought her shot was going in.
“[Shorey] is awesome,” said Roundy.
Roundy, who plays club field hockey in the offseason with several of the Belfast players, said it is a healthy rivalry.
“They have an awesome team and an awesome program that they have been building for a long time,” said Roundy. “I’m happy with the way we played. We just need to work on our execution before coming into the playoffs. But I love our team.”
Nokomis coach Shaunessy Saucier said she was proud of “how we came out today.”
“This is good practice for us to play in a big game. We just have to manage our emotions and rely on our game instead of changing our game for another team,” said Saucier.
The Warriors had an edge in play in the first half but Shorey made two important saves off Roundy to keep it a scoreless game.
Roundy had a shot from a tough angle to Shorey’s right and she got her right arm on it. Later in the half, Shorey absorbed a blast from Roundy with her right pad.
Highly-skilled junior forward Breanna Shorey, who is Nikki’s sister, was a constant threat with her slick maneuvers as was Nokomis’ Roundy.
Breanna Shorey set up Belfast’s best scoring chance of the game up to that point late in the third period.
Shorey slipped the ball ahead to Wadsworth, who was in alone on Drummond.
But Drummond alertly came out to smother the shot.
Belfast had the edge in play in the second half but Drummond kept them at bay.
And the defenders on both teams were stellar throughout the game.
Kali Knight and Emily Friel were among the Belfast standouts in the back while Alaina Donahue Myia SeeHusen were among Nokomis’ top defenders.
Each goalie finished with three saves.
Belfast will travel to play Messalonskee in Oakland on Wednesday at 5 while Nokomis will entertain Dexter/Central at 4, also on Wednesday.