- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
By JAMES A. McCRAY III
The Leonardtown Raiders field hockey team lined up for only three penalty corners in the first half of its Monday evening contest with the visiting Northern Patriots.
It was the result of two of them that got the Raiders going in its SMAC and home opener of the 2012 season.
The Raiders scored on two of its three first-half corners and added a third goal in the second half off of a corner.
Those three goals paved the way to a 3-1 victory over Northern, improving the Raiders and head coach Mia Finkelston to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in SMAC play this season.
“That was awesome,” Finkelston said of converting on the opportunities. “That was great. We really struggled in previous years with that. I am really proud of the girls for converting on those corners.”
The first conversion came with just over 13 minutes remaining in the opening half when Hanah Albright knocked home the first goal of the goal, giving her team a 1-0 lead.
“We work so hard on our corners and it really paid off,” Albright said. “I know we have a really strong offense and I know that if we work hard enough we can win [games].”
With just under six minutes remaining in the half, Autumn Mallory hit the cage for Leonardtown’s second goal, increasing that lead to 2-0.
“I was pretty impressed,” Mallory said of her corners offense. “It happens because of other people from their assists and it starts from the defense because they had to get [the ball] up there. It’s really a team effort.”
Northern cut the lead in half with a late score in the opening half. Then midway through the second half, Abby Finkelston scored on the third and final goal for Leonardtown, from a corner, in helping earn the Raiders its first SMAC win of the season.
“It was great,” Mallory said of the win. “We really needed this to get going into the season. We knew Northern was going to be tough and hard competition.”
Through three games, which included two wins at a Magruder High School tournament this past weekend, Leonardtown has three wins, a fact that has the team’s mindset moving in a positive direction.
“It does boost our confidence, but we’re too smart to get too cocky,” Mallory said. “We are still going to work really hard to get through the next game.”
Albright said of the confidence, “It’s pretty high, but we can’t get too cocky or too wound up. I know that we still have to work hard and focus really hard to win.”
Thinking back to last season’s double-overtime contest with the Patriots, coach Finkelston also took time to mention that opening the 2012 SMAC season against Northern was a great way to test her team as early as possible with the contest being the SMAC opener for the Raiders.
“They always play a physical game,” Finkelston said of Northern. “We prepared [our girls] mentally for that, but until you play, you can’t be prepared. We were really impressed that our girls held their composure. … We had to work hard the entire time and couldn’t let up.”
The Raiders now prepare for a road contest with cross-county rival Chopticon, scheduled for 4 p.m. today.
“I don’t think I’ll ever say we’re super confident,” coach Finkelston said of her team, “but each win helps, definitely. They know they have a test [today] against Chopticon.”
Northern and head coach Nicole Kerfoot dropped its first game of the season after previously defeating Chopticon to open up the 2012 schedule.
Despite the 3-1 loss, Kerfoot was extremely proud of freshman goalie Sophie Thon, who totaled eight saves in the game.
“She is a newcomer and I am extremely proud of what she did today,” Kerfoot said. “She was nervous but learning quickly. It was a big game for her today and she really stepped it up for us. She did a great job.”
Despite a strong start to the contest, Northern (1-1, 1-1) fell behind 2-0.
A Tara Truitt goal with only 30 seconds remaining in the first half, however, cut the deficit to 2-1 going into the halftime.
“I think they got a little relaxed,” Kerfoot admitted of her team. “Once [Leonardtown] scored, we got a little down and they scored again and I had to pull them together. … This is a young team. They are still learning the varsity level speed of the game, but they are getting there. It wasn’t a bad game today.”
Leonardtown 3, Northern 1
Northern 1 0
Leonardtown 2 1
Goals: Northern (Truitt); Leonardtown (Albright, Mallory, Finkelston)
Saves: Northern (Thon 8); Leonardtown (Sherman 2)