LEOMINSTER — The fall season is still in its infancy for the Leominster High field hockey team, but the Blue Devils made a pretty big statement on Thursday night.
Under the lights of Doyle Field, Leominster secured a 3-1 victory against visiting Nashoba Regional, a perennial power in Central Mass.
“That’s a big win. It’s our first league win after being bumped up from Mid-Wach B and I think we needed to prove to ourselves that we can be here and play at this level,” Leominster head coach Kate Phillips said after her team improved to 2-0 on the season. “I thought we did some really great things tonight. I thought we dominated that right side and that’s really important to our game.”
As for Nashoba, the setback drops the Wolves to 1-2 on the campaign.
“Leominster is a good team. We came out and scored first but when Leominster struck twice in the second quarter it really affected us,” said Nashoba head coach Jaime Mariani. “Now, we’re playing from behind and it makes a big difference, especially against a good team like Leominster.”
Nashoba struck first with the only goal of the first quarter when Kayla Flannagan blasted a shot home off a penalty corner, beating Leominster goalie Kailyn Cuddahy (six saves) with 10:58 left in the opening stanza to give the Wolves a quick 1-0 lead.
It remained 1-0 until the middle stages of the second quarter when the Blue Devils answered twice in the span of 46 second. Emma Miller Ayala tied the game at 1 with 5:45 left before halftime when she showed some fancy stick work down the left side of the field and beat Nashoba goalie Valerie Michel (five saves).
Taylor Boulay gave the hosts a 2-1 with 4:59 showing on the clock when she put one past Michel from inside the circle.
It remained a one-goal contest until the opening minutes of the fourth quarter when the Blue Devils added a key insurance goal as Caroline Kelly found the back of the net just 1:13 into the stanza to give Leominster a 3-1 lead.
“I thought defensively in the first quarter we were bad. I think we were caught sleeping in that first quarter,” said Phillips. “After that first quarter I was pleased with the way we picked up our play. There were a lot of emotions early on in this one and the girls handled it really well.”
Nashoba is back on the field Saturday afternoon when it hosts Notre Dame of Hingham. Leominster returns to action Monday night when Algonquin Regional makes the trip from Northboro.