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HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY: Indians put semifinal loss in perspective

VIRGINIA BEACH—Before the game even started, it only took a glance at the two teams to see the difference between a mature and veteran Westfield squad, and Stafford’s host of freshmen and sophomores, dotted with a few key seniors.

And when the gameit began, the experience gap was obvious.

“They came out ready to go and we didn’t figure it out until after the game started,” Stafford freshman Callie Quinn said. “We let the other team dictate the pace.”

The Bulldogs put in a pair of first-half goals and solidified the win with a sweet reverse chip shot by Emily McNamara, beating Stafford 3–0 on Friday in the 6A state semifinals.

Westfield (21–2) will play two-time defending state champion First Colonial at 2 p.m. today for the state title. The Patriots topped Fairfax, 2–0, in the other semifinal.

The consolation prize for Stafford (17–4) was a teaching opportunity for a batch of still-learning underclassmen the Indians expect back next season.

“It’s not a good thing to lose,” Stafford senior Natalie Bohmke said. “But I know that experience has motivated me the last four years. Freshman year you don’t understand how much it means, to get here. It’s a very special thing. It’s a big deal.”

“It’s was so important for us to get to this game,” Stafford coach Dani Warters added, “so our team can see that and see the level we need to get to if we want to keep coming back and get past the semis and on to the championship.”

Westfield grabbed a 1–0 lead when Katie Winesett finished a rebound six minutes into the game. The Bulldogs kept Stafford defensive for most of the period, and the lead grew to 2–0 on a penalty stroke finished by Rachael Ulsh 10 minutes before halftime.

McNamara made it 3–0, dancing into the circle and hitting a reverse sweep chip shot with 21 minutes to play.

As the game wore on, Stafford seemed to adjust to the different style offered by the turf field. The Indians managed their only corner with 10 minutes to play and had offensive chances in the final stretch.

“We told them that it was too little, too late,” Warters said. “We finally decided we were going to start playing.

“We were a little on our heals and Westfield capitalized on all our mistakes. We tried to prepare for that, but our youth really showed.”

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045