GARDINER — Every field hockey team has tryouts in preseason. This year, Nokomis coach Katie Thompson had a “re-tryout” in midseason.

“It was a couple weeks ago,” Nokomis coach Katie Thompson said. “We just said, ‘What we’re doing now isn’t working. We’re not getting it done. Let’s see who can get it done.’ So we re-arranged some things and I think it’s paying off. They’ve worked out the kinks and I think now they’re really starting to click.”

Nokomis was 3-2-1 after six games, but hasn’t lost since the changes. The Warriors ended the regular season with a 2-0 victory over Gardiner on Tuesday afternoon.

“It definitely made us stronger,” Nokomis back Taylor Shaw said of the re-tryout.

Nokomis plays in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship games, which will be crossovers between Class A and Class B. The likely matchups are Nokomis against Messalonskee and Skowhegan against Belfast. Both games will be played Thursday at Thomas College.

The loss puts Gardiner at 9-5, and based on the latest Heal points on Tuesday night, the Tigers will need to play Oceanside in a preliminary round game. Gardiner beat top-ranked Belfast on Sept. 22, but has lost four of six games since then. Against Nokomis, the Tigers looked almost confused as to why they weren’t playing as well as they did against Belfast.

“Well, I don’t know if they’re confused, but I am,” Gardiner coach Moe McNally said. “I said to them after this game — I said to them after the last three or four ballgames — we have not played well as a team since the Belfast game. And I’m not sure what to attribute that to. It’s not for lack of effort from the kids. It’s not for lack of intelligence. It’s not any of that.”

The Warriors held Gardiner without a shot in the first half and went up 1-0 when Lindsay Whitney carried the ball down the right side, took a shot and sent home her own rebound with 13:19 left in the half.

It looked like that would be the score going into the break, but with less than a minute to play, Taylor Lovley created a Gardiner foul and change of possession. Lovley then took a hard shot from just inside the circle that deflected off a Gardiner player and into the cage to make it 2-0 with just 39 seconds left.

The Warriors’ defense, led by Shaw and Kayla Braley, protected that lead in the second half. Gardiner couldn’t get close enough to get a shot on goal until there was just 5:15 left in the game. Nokomis goalie Kendra Underhill made three good saves, including one on Nickyia Lovely.

“I thought our defense came up big today,” Thompson said. “They’ve actually been like this the last few games, coming together, communicating really well, calling the ball.”

If Gardiner does in fact have a preliminary game, that will probably be on Saturday. Should the Tigers win, they will face Belfast again in the quarterfinals.

“I have all the confidence in the world that we can make some noise in this tournament,” McNally said. “We’ve just got to get back to playing good, solid, basic hockey.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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