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Group AAA hockey final: Stafford falls to First Colonial

Stafford defenders Natalie Bohmke (12) blocks a First Colonial score attempt just before the ball crosses the goal line in the second half. Stafford lost 4-1 to First Colonial in the VHSL Group AAA field hockey state championship on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va. (Dave Ellis/The Free Lance-Star)

Stafford defenders Natalie Bohmke (12) blocks a First Colonial score attempt just before the ball crosses the goal line in the second half. Stafford lost 4-1 to First Colonial in the VHSL Group AAA field hockey state championship on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va. (Dave Ellis/The Free Lance-Star)

 

FIRST COLONIAL IS TOO MUCH FOR STAFFORD,

WHICH BECOMES STATE RUNNER-UP A THIRD TIME

BY JUSTIN RICE

VIRGINIA BEACH—Stafford scored a goal on its only shot yesterday in the Group AAA state field hockey championship game.

But one goal and one shot on the Indians’ best opportunity of the day wasn’t nearly enough.

First Colonial took a 1–0 lead in the first two minutes of the game and pulled away with back-to-back scores late in the second half for a 4–1 victory yesterday and the Patriots’ first state title.

Stafford (21–4) is second in the state for the third time in school history.

“That’s something we can be proud of, just prolonging the season for ourselves,” Stafford senior Erin Gallivan said. “We wanted to play as long as we could. I know it means a lot to our seniors.”

The Patriots had a 10–1 edge on corners, and a decisive 25–1 advantage on shots. And though the Stafford defense scrambled and kept the Indians in the game, at the finish the Patriots had had just too many chances.

“I truly believe the score isn’t indicative to how much Stafford fought today,” Stafford coach Dani Woodie said. “For a long, long time, our defense was holding strong. With such a young defense in the back, our girls did an admirable job.”

In Stafford’s semifinal win against Westfield on Friday, the Indians grabbed the momentum with a goal in the first two minutes. Yesterday they were on the wrong end of a quick strike.

First Colonial’s Kelly Chesson carried the ball from midfield up the right half and crossed to Isabelle Smith on the far side, who finished for a 1–0 lead with just one minute, 40 seconds gone off the clock.

Stafford tried to steady itself.

“We’ve been fighters and we’ve been able to come back,” Gallivan said. “[The early goal] wasn’t something I was worried about until the end of the game and we ran out of time.”

But pressure in the midfield by First Colonial led to pressure in Stafford’s circle.

The Indians struggled with passes and extended possessions. They didn’t have the ball inside the Patriots’ circle until 3:26 remained in the first half, and they went to the break without a shot on goal or a penalty corner.

“It was harder to possess the ball because of their strong offense,” Stafford junior Lindsey Lysher said. “They’re just a strong team. They were always right there.”

The lead grew to 2–0 10 minutes into the second half, with Spencer Tossone scoring for First Colonial to the left of the cage after stopping a pass from Katelyn Adkins.

But in the following minute of play—even if just for a brief moment—things connected for Stafford.

Sam Heflin led an attack up the left wing and dumped the ball into the corner for Sarah French. French centered to Gallivan, who had plenty of time and space in front of the Patriots’ cage for an easy goal that cut the hole back to a manageable 2–1.

Stafford was in the game but the opportunities it needed to force a tie never came.

The Indians earned their only corner of the contest with 14:43 to play, but never again got a shot through to the First Colonial keeper.

“First Colonial would surround and swarm,” Woodie said. “It was a little hard to get back up the field. Once we recognized it, we were able to move the ball a little better.”

The Patriots’ chances kept coming.

Chesson made a steal with 6:39 and scored an unassisted goal, touching around the keeper and pushing the ball in for a 3–1 lead. The advantage grew to 4–1 a minute later, when Katelyn Adkins found the goal on a rebound.

“Our defense played really well; they gave it their all,” Lysher said. “But First Colonial capitalized on their opportunities.”

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045

jrice@freelancestar.com

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