Laker girls’ soccer team nets much needed win

CELEBRATING A BIG HOMECOMING WIN — There were plenty of hugs being shared after the Lakers edged Traip Academy 2-1 last Wednesday night. Pictured (left to right) are Danica Chadwick (#14), Devynn Turner, goalie Isabel Scribner (back to) and Grace Farrington. (Rivet Photo)

CELEBRATING A BIG HOMECOMING WIN — There were plenty of hugs being shared after the Lakers edged Traip Academy 2-1 last Wednesday night. Pictured (left to right) are Danica Chadwick (#14), Devynn Turner, goalie Isabel Scribner (back to) and Grace Farrington. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Persistence paid off for CeCe Hancock and Lauren Jakobs during last Wednesday’s Homecoming game against Traip Academy.

After missing an open net with 9:56 left and the game tied at 1-1, Hancock split through two Traip defenders and buried a hard drive for the winner with 7:52 left to help the Lakers snap a three-game losing skid.

Just three minutes into the contest, Traip took a 1-0 lead on a shot by Elora McCuddy, whose boot sailed to the left post past Laker netminder Isabel Scribner, who aggressively tried to cut down the shooting angle.

Jakobs, a freshman, netted the equalizer at 15:55 of the first half following a scramble in front of the Traip net. Hancock kept the play alive by deflecting the ball away from Traip goalie Lynne Moore, who dove in an attempt to take control. Jakobs quickly booted a drive that sailed “top shelf” for a score.

The Lakers carried play with a 22-9 shot advantage over the Rangers. And, they did it with a lineup that included several rookies, who had to step in for injured starters.

Lake Region Coach Harvey Toews credited the group’s ability to “come together” as a unit despite a rash of injuries.

“The season is long and we constantly battle nagging or even more serious injuries right from the start. We’ve had one case of appendicitis, two concussions, numerous tender ankles, tricky knees, and the occasional groin pull,” Coach Toews said.

In the Waynflete game, the Lakers were four starters short at the beginning of the game and had two key players go down during the game. The result — the Lakers led 1-0 at halftime, but saw the Flyers rebound and swipe a 5-1 victory.

“Halfway through the season, we have yet to have our projected starting 11 on the field at the same time. We do not have full and separate varsity and JV squads so many players are swinging (between the two teams). The result is that swingers get a lot of touches and playing time, but we are constantly trying to manage their minutes to preserve stamina,” Coach Toews said. “The good news is that many of the swing players have worked very hard, improved their skills, and earned significant varsity minutes.”

Against Traip last Wednesday, the Lakers were missing three starters, including two of the back line defenders.

“That has been business as usual so we did not view it necessarily as a disadvantage. We felt quite comfortable with the lineup that we had going into the game,” Coach Toews said. “Devynn Turner has been a defensive rock in the middle all season even though she battles nagging injures most of the time.”

The Lakers have employed a rotating back line of many “hard working players” including Roz Hawkes, Bailey Crawford, Grace Farrington and Danica Chadwick. Lauren Williams has rehabbed from her knee injury and was a force in her return against Traip, Coach Toews pointed out. The Lakers hope to get back this week both All-Star Katie Throgmorton and Devin Langadas, who has been a pleasant surprise as a defender.

Although the Lakers fell behind early against Traip, Coach Toews expected his squad to rally.

“We got down early to Traip, who used their terrific speed to catch us in transition and score an early goal. With a few adjustments to take away the quick strike, and our continuous improvement in ball movement, we were able to dominate possession for the majority of the game and create good scoring chances,” Coach Toews said. “We could have easily scored a couple more goals in that game, but couldn’t convert other easy opportunities. CeCe and Kristen Huntress consistently work very hard and do a great job driving our ability to possess the ball and create scoring opportunities. They were very important in the victory against Traip.”

What impressed Coach Toews and his coaching staff the most was that the team showed good mental toughness against Traip.

“Even when trailing 1-0, there was no let-down. It was a complete team effort. They played with confidence and a sense that there was no way they were going to lose that game. They just kept working and grinding until they imposed their will and left with the victory,” Coach Toews said. “Keeper Isabel Scribner played a great game as did Devynn Turner in the back. Grace Farrington and Lauren Jakobs were solid in front of Devynn and transitioned well from defense to attack. Lauren Williams returned to action and played like she had never been gone, and Danica Chadwick played beyond her years.”

The coach also cited the “great efforts” from Kaylynn Jordan, Megan Boos, Melody Millett, Samantha Young, Brittany Perreault, who was also just returning from injury, and Keyana Prescot, Sophie Fagone, and Whitney Harriman, “who always bring 100% to the table whenever their numbers are called.”

An area Coach Toews has seen improvement is the Lakers ability to create good scoring chances.

“We are getting better at creating scoring opportunities, we are scoring more often, and more players are involved in scoring than last year. We need to get better at converting our opportunities as good chances become increasingly rare against top competition,” he said. “Ability to possess is much improved and we are getting better at playing with intensity for a full 80 minutes.”

The coach has also been pleased with the efforts of his underclassmen — several who have seen more varsity minutes than expected.

“We have a number of ‘rookies’ who have been playing very well so far this year. Freshman Lauren Jakobs has the ability to be an impact player in the middle, playing out of the back or in the midfield, and was rewarded for her efforts with the goal against Traip. She does not panic when she has the ball — even when under pressure — has good field vision and is building confidence with each game. She has combined well with more veteran players to build our possession game,” Coach Toews said. “Danica Chadwick is another freshman, who has earned significant minutes as a back due to her speed, endurance and aggressive nature. She has been very impressive for a freshman in a high pressure position.”

Ninth graders Aisley Sturk and Hannah Chadwick have earned some varsity minutes, as well and Coach Toews predicts their roles will expand in the future.

“All of our freshmen work hard at practice to improve their game,” he said.

The coach is hopeful that the Homecoming victory will be the springboard the Lakers need down the stretch as they try to make a serious run at a playoff spot.

“Winning at Homecoming is always special for the girls. It was an important win for the team as we were on a three game losing skid and fresh from a disappointing loss to Waynflete in a game we easily could have won. There is a big difference between being 3-4 and being 2-5,” he said. “We are now back in the playoff hunt and I believe in a position to control our own destiny if we play to our potential and stay relatively healthy. There is a good chance we will be at full strength this weekend when we travel to Poland.”

Next: The Lakers travel to Poland on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game against the Knights. The Lakers then host Fryeburg Academy on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and travel to North Yarmouth Academy next Thursday, Oct. 9 for a 3:30 p.m. contest.

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