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HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY: Jackets outlast tough Cyclones

The look on James Monroe senior Hannah Fisher’s face said it all.

It wasn’t the normal exuberance of victory; it looked more like exhausted relief the look of a player who knew her team was fortunate to survive and advance.

“That’s all I’m happy about,” Fisher said. “We got it, so that’s really good.”

James Monroe survived an inspired effort from a feisty Eastern View team, using a first-half goal from Fisher and some by-their-fingernails defense after the break for a 1–0 win in the 4A–North field hockey semifinals. The Yellow Jackets clinched a Group 4A state tournament berth and will host Chancellor—which beat Bruton, 3–0, in Tuesday’s other semifinal—on Thursday in the region championship game.

“We’re going to play a quality team on Thursday and in states,” JM junior Miranda Rigg said. “This one was an eye opener, for sure. Practice should be interesting.”

Fisher’s goal came with 20 minutes, 52 seconds left in the first half on a hard shot off a corner inserted by Catesby Willis.

But that was all Eastern View (15–5) allowed. Cyclones goalie Alexis Knipfer was outstanding turning away a persistent James Monroe attack, and she was helped by two JM shots that rang off the cage and a brilliant stick save by defender Glori Giallombardo when the Jackets were trying to extend their margin.

“That’s a beautiful stick save just amazing,” said Fisher, who along with Rigg had consecutive shots with about 25 minutes to play. Rigg’s rang off the right goalpost and Fisher’s the left. “It’s very frustrating when it spins in there and you’re just hoping someone is going to tap it in.”

“[Knipfer] did a great job,” added JM coach Jamie Tierney. “Her reaction on a couple of shots totally saved them. And their defense that stick save ”

On its own defensive end, James Monroe had to do some scrambling of its own.

Eastern View had three second-half corners, including the final two of the game in the last six minutes of play. The Cyclones were also able to use their speed to get breakaway chances at the James Monroe goal.

Tierney said she had implored her team not to overlook Eastern View; Cyclones coach Peggy Allen said her team has been battling for respect all season.

“The character of this group of kids—it’s just awesome,” Allen said. “You will not find a better group as far as teamwork and sisterhood.

“I don’t know if [JM] expected that out of us or not.”

The dogfight certainly caught Tierney’s eye. Like Fisher, she looked happy to have just survived in a game that could have swung the other way had Eastern View been able to cash in.

“We just have one day where we certainly have some things to talk about and work on at practice,” she said. “We’ve got to pick it up.

“These next two weeks, we can’t take anyone lightly. This is win or be done.”

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045