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HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY: Chargers defend title

VIRGINIA BEACH—It was like a replay.

Just like last year, Chancellor arrived at the 4A field hockey state championship game the underdog to a team perceived to be odds-on favorite maybe the best team in the state.

And just like last year, the Chargers—on an overtime Katherine Hull-to-Kate Colley goal—left as champions.

“People look past us, and that’s fine,” said Hull, one of 12 Chancellor seniors. “We take advantage of that and we played with our all.”

Colley’s goal on a perfectly executed corner less than a minute into overtime lifted the Chargers to a 2–1 win over Lakeland. It’s Chancellor’s fourth state title and the first time the Chargers have won back-to-back crowns.

“Today is a bittersweet day,” said Chancellor coach Jim Larkin, who will bid farewell to the most accomplished group of field hockey players in school history. “Those 12 seniors are special.”

Last year it was four-time state champion Tabb; this year it was Lakeland, reclassified this season from Group AAA to Group 4A. The Cavaliers (22–1) had compiled a perfect record against a difficult schedule of state-caliber opponents from 6A, 5A and 4A.

They were the team everyone was talking about, the team which seemed destined to finish with a championship.

“Everybody says you’ve got the beach schools,” Larkin said. “Lakeland this. Tabb that. We had the opportunity to show we can produce hockey as well as everybody else.

“There was a little chip on our shoulders. They wanted to prove something today, and I think they did.”

Colley’s goal won it only after Allison Weiland scored with four minutes, 34 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game.

An even first half ended with the Cavaliers ahead 1–0 on Summer Parker’s goal with 8:45 left before the break. The Chargers (22–1) had chances too—including a goal called back because it brushed a Chancellor player on the way into the cage.

The second half was even, too.

Chancellor finally broke through after a pair of Lakeland corners were cleared and led to a Charger counter attack. A high pass into the circle found Chelsea Galera, who crossed the ball over to Weiland for the game-tying score.

“We kept the pressure up,” Weiland said. “We knew we had to do it. It was a ‘right now’ kind of moment.”

The Chancellor defense had their “right now” moments, too.

Lakeland’s attack was as good as advertised, senior defender Kaila Bernard said. By the skin of their teeth, the Charger defenders turned away quality Cavalier opportunities.

Lakeland hurt itself, too.

After Colley’s goal, Lakeland went on a strong counter. On an attack with three minutes to play, the Chargers stopped two shots, but the third point-blank try was fouled and Lakeland was awarded a penalty stroke.

The free shot, though, didn’t have to be saved. It was pushed wide of the cage and never had a chance.

“I think in the end, will and heart overcame what skill couldn’t,” Bernard said. “The defensive line as a whole—even going up to the midfielders—if one missed, we had someone else there. It was communication and teamwork.”

Colley’s overtime winner came quickly.

In the seven-on-seven’s opening minute, the Chargers carried into the Lakeland circle and earned a corner.

“I winked at Kate before Chloe [Fernandez] pushed the ball out,” Hull said. “We knew it was going to happen. We seriously knew. We were like, ‘Right here, right now. This is it.’ We knew it. Everybody did.”

It was the same corner the Chargers ran last year in overtime against Tabb when Colley scored an overtime winner for the 2012 title.

The insert came to Hull. She passed to her left. And Colley struck a perfect shot into the cage.

Chancellor’s players stormed the field. Larkin went to his knees on the turf, face down, just soaking in the moment.

He said he believed the Chargers would do it the whole time. So did Weiland.

“It was hard at moments, but you dig down deep,” she said. “You’ve been with these girls four years now; we have that sisterhood, that bond.

“We know we’re going to do it, no matter what.”

 

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045

jrice@freelancestar.com

 

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