Thursday, December 12, 2013
NEWPORT — The Nokomis field hockey remembers all too well its missed opportunity last year, when its season came to a halt in the Eastern B semifinals.
A year later, the determined Warriors weren’t about to let another chance at a regional final slip away.
Drew Graves scored two goals — both in a decisive second half — and No. 1 Nokomis rolled into the Eastern B championship game with a 4-0 victory over Belfast before about 400 fans Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve been working hard for this all season,” Graves said. “We remember last year. We wanted this.”
Juniors Mikayla Pelkey and Mikayla Charters also scored for Nokomis, which held a 9-4 edge in penalty corners.
Nokomis (16-0-0) will play Old Town in the Eastern B championship game Tuesday at a time to be determined.
No. 5 Belfast finished 8-8-0.
“We really wanted it,” Pelkey said. “We knew how tough it was to lose in the semifinals last season. We didn’t want to do it again this year. We couldn’t have that happen two years in a row.”
Thanks to an aggressive offense and a shut-down defense, it didn’t.
Nokomis scored the only goal it would need when Pelkey stopped a free hit from about 30 yards out, dribbled into the circle and then slipped a shot to the far corner past Belfast goalie Madison Littlefield 6 minutes, 19 seconds into the game.
“It was a breakaway,” Pelkey said. “I went to the left corner with it. It was a big lift. We needed it.”
Added Nokomis coach Katie Thompson: “We really have been working on taking advantage of our breakaway opportunities. We had to use our speed and use the space.”
The Warriors did plenty of that in a dominant second half.
Graves scored her first goal of the game with 18:18 left in the second half on another breakaway chance.
“I got a nice through pass and I saw the goalie come up and I pulled to the right,” Graves said. “I just put it into the corner. We definitely took advantage of our opportunities.”
Nokomis, which outshot Belfast 19-4, put the game out of reach when Charters buried a penalty stroke to the top right corner with 14:31 left in regulation.
“I was looking to get it right in the middle,” Charters said. “It wasn’t quite where I wanted it to go, but it went in and that is all that matters.”
Added Thompson: “It was nice to see how we came out in the second half. We had our opportunities in the first half but we couldn’t take advantage. We had a lot more intensity in the second half. It was a close game at the half and we needed to step it up.”
Graves capped the scoring when she tipped the ball past Littlefield with about four minutes left to play.
Littlefield finished with seven saves while Kendra Underhill had four for the Warriors.
“It feels great to go back to the (regional final),” Graves said. “Hopefully, we can keep this going.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640