NEWPORT, Maine — Each season, Nokomis field hockey players focus on a particular move or skill they want to perfect. For Sabrina Vaillancourt, this year’s skill was “the skip.”
“It’s kind of natural to me now,” Vaillancourt said. “I just kind of take my stick and flip it up over their sticks.”
After using the skill to take the ball all the way from midfield to the net before scoring the first goal of Tuesday afternoon’s game unassisted — and then adding three more goals over the next 57 minutes — Vaillancourt and her Warriors were skipping off their field with a 4-1 Eastern Maine Class B quarterfinal playoff win over No. 8 Hermon.
Topseeded Nokomis, 12-1-2, will host No. 4 Belfast in a noon semifinal on Saturday.
Just 3:07 into the game, Vaillancourt took control of the ball at midfield, brought it down the left side, and met her first defender. She pulled up, skipped the ball over the oncoming opposing stick, and kept running. Vaillancourt pulled an instant replay skip on defenders twice more before stopping at the left front of the net and shooting.
Hermon goalie Jamie Roy made the save, but the ball deflected back out to Vaillancourt, who then beat her with a dribbler to the right corner.
Hermon tied it up a little more than 12 minutes later, however, as Lily Barry scored to cap a four-shot barrage from a crowd of blue jerseys bunched up about 20 feet out from the cage in the middle. Barry’s hard shot was just out of goalie Maria Adams’ reach.
The game remained tied for four minutes until Vaillancourt took a perfect pass from senior Erin Knight, who was standing just inside the circle on the right, and blasted it into the net from about 10 feet away.
The second half was Hermon’s, momentum-wise, for the first 20 minutes as the Hawks outshot the Warriors 7-0. Nokomis began to change the flow with about eight minutes left and wound up outshooting Hermon 8-1 in that span.
“I think they were coming to the ball faster than us and we had to adjust,” Nokomis coach Katie Thompson explained. “We were hitting to the middle a lot, which is where they were, and we had to adjust and take it to the sides because that’s where the space was.”
That’s where Vaillancourt was as well.
“The last five minutes, we lost focus on her. We were more worried about just getting the ball to the circle,” said Hermon coach Ann Redman.
The junior left wing made it 3-1 with 4:03 left on a slap shot from the front off a nice pass from Jordin McInnis on the right. Three minutes later, it was Alison Berg’s turn as she set up Vaillancourt with another great pass from the right.
“I just went in for the last four minutes. It was kind of surprising,” said Berg, who needs just four more assists to break the school record.
Although it wound up 4-1, the score doesn’t convey the solid effort turned in by the Hawks, who finish the season 5-10.
“We’re actually not a 5-10 team,” said Redman, who coached Hermon to its first playoff berth in at least five years. “I shake my head after each game because what you saw today is how we play almost every game, but still lose most of them.”
Roy finished with nine saves on 16 shots. Adams wound up with eight on 13.