NAPLES—The Lakers – Paige Davis and Olivia Deschenes in the lead – blasted past North Yarmouth Academy on Saturday morning, Sept. 30. Davis tallied a hat trick and Deschenes a quartet of goals as Lake Region poached the Panthers, whose only strike came from Katie Larson. 8-1 the final.

“We wanted to play our game,” Lake Region head coach Pauline Webb said. “Because we’ve got some big games coming up for us that will be crucial for where we end up in playoffs. We had to play aggressive, play like it’s a playoff game. Every game for us is ‘Play like it’s a playoff game.’”

Deschenes put the Lakers out front not long into the bout – roughly two minutes, give or take. Larson, maybe five minutes later, evened things up, and for a brief while it appeared the game might prove tight.

But NYA’s bench was remarkably short; the team had just one sub available at any time. That entailed at least one frustrating thing: The Panthers were presumably doomed to tire out eventually.

So, with approximately 17 minutes to play in the opening half, after Delaney Meserve fired a corner in to Deschenes, Deschenes fed across to Davis and Davis scored, the contest began to tilt sharply in Lake Region’s favor. 

“They definitely connected well,” Webb said of her girls. “Of course, NYA not having a bench certainly doesn’t help them.”

Webb elaborated on some of the other things her girls did right. “This year, we’ve been able to create a lot of penalty corners,” she said; “we just have not been able to capitalize on the corners. So for them to be able to score off – I think at least four goals were off penalty corners, and right from the beginning – for them, that’s a huge confidence booster. We’ve got to carry that with us.”

“We’ve been working really hard in practice,” Deschenes said, “especially with connecting on goals. So, aside from the advantage of having so many players on our bench, versus them having fewer, we really just connected on goal, finished those shots, which is what we’ve been working for.”

“We’ve been having a really hard time scoring on corners,” Deschenes said. “We’ve been generating a lot of shots, they just haven’t been going in. But like I said, we’ve been working really hard in practice. Spent a lot of time on corners yesterday, threw in a few new plays, and we really just executed on goal today.”

“We’ve really been working on trusting our teammates,” Davis said, “and passing the ball, not dribbling, not keeping the ball for too long. So we had to work on team chemistry this year, and today it really kicked in. We started trusting our teammates; we were passing, we were looking up. We were letting our teammate do what we know she can do.”

“We have kind of a young team,” Davis said, “so it’s harder for us to, kind of, you know, relate to each other; I haven’t been playing for that long – Olivia’s been playing with these girls for a really long time, I started back in seventh grade. But Coach Webb and Coach Whitney have really worked on us, team-building.”

Panthers goalie Eliza Tod deserves a good deal of credit for repelling a number of Lakers’ attempts, but she couldn’t stop every ball and by the break, Lake Region had gone up 3-1 on another Deschenes notch, this one out of a scramble.

Meserve scored 1:21 into the second half, and ten minutes later, she, Deschenes and Davis teamed up for another successful corner. Three and a half minutes after that, Deschenes rebounded on a Davis shot and scored. Then, with 10:10 remaining, Davis took a turn rebounding on a Deschenes shot for 7-1. Finally, Deschenes hashed her fourth following a corner in the waning minutes.

Webb remarked on Deschenes’s and Davis’s chemistry together: “They both know the game very well, the both play throughout the winter and the spring. Today, what they really connected is, timing their pass, seeing where the defender was and timing it right, and giving it up when they needed to. Their timing was really on today.”

“We connect really well,” Deschenes said of her synergy with Davis. “We play together all year round, so we have an advantage. I always know where she is, she always know where I am, so that helps us a lot, just to be able to connect and finish for each other.”

“Olivia taught me how to play field hockey,” Davis said. “In seventh grade, Olivia took me under her wing, taught me everything I know, then we just kind of never left each other’s side. We’ve just been connected, I guess.”

“The whole team,” Webb said, asked who played well. “They’ve had a lot of give-‘n-goes, really throughout the whole season. It’s trusting each other, and trusting and believing that they can put the ball in. They did that today. Julia Murch is a huge midfielder for us, strong stick, strong defender – she can go offensively and defensively. Then, Kelsey Apovian, in the back, is a great defender. Will usually get that last ball when nobody else can get it. And I’ve got a young freshman playing in the back, Ali Vogel, who has really showed a lot of great improvement. [She’s] doing a phenomenal job.” 

Davis echoed Webb on Murch’s contributions. “One of our mids, Julia Murch, we rely on her so much. She’s always there, backing us up, she’s always in the right position, she has great stick stops. She had an assist today – she’s just doing really good.”

Deschenes took a moment to applaud yet another Laker. “I think Dessi (Berry) did really well on the wing today. She carried the ball up really well on the side and sent in a lot of nice balls for us to finish on goal.”

Lake Region moved to 6-5 on the result; they then bested No. 3 Poland (8-4) by a score of 2-1 on Monday, Oct. 2 to move to 7-5. The Lakers are currently ranked fifth in B South, a slot back from Freeport (8-3-1) and a slot ahead of Leavitt (7-4). Their last two bouts of the year, slated for Wednesday the 4th and Tuesday the 10th, will be towering challenges: They travel to No. 2 Yarmouth (8-2-1) first, then host No. 1 York (8-2-1).

NYA, meanwhile, slipped on the loss to 5-6. They fell to 5-7 on Monday the 2nd, when they succumbed 8-2 to St. Dominic (who are, to be fair, among the dominant field hockey forces in the State at present. The Saints are currently 12-0 and atop the standings in C South.) The Panthers host Wells (ninth in B South at 4-6) on Thursday the 5th and Traip (10th in C South at 2-7-1) five days later.

Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME

Emerson Dinsmore fires forward for the Lady Lakers.

Paige Davis (13) high-fives Olivia Deschenes (14) after teaming up with her for a goal.

Olivia Deschenes scraps for a ball on the attack vs. NYA.