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Region I Field Hockey: Shots roll in for Chargers
BY JUSTIN RICE
Some goals are pretty—a deft pass, or a clean hard shot sailing into the cage. And some goals are ugly, with offensive players crashing toward the goalie, jamming the ball with a stick, hoping to get it over the line.
Chancellor was glad to get both Thursday, when every goal moved the Chargers one step closer to next week’s state tournament.
Chancellor 3, Bruton 0
Tabb 5, Grafton 0
Chancellor at Tabb, 6
Grafton at Bruton
Greer Trainham scored one of those ugly goals, and Katherine Hull and Kenzie Neylon finished a pair of pretty plays, and Chancellor beat Bruton, 3–0, on Thursday in the Region I field hockey semifinals.
Chancellor has clinched a Group AA/A state tournament berth, and will play at four-time defending state champion Tabb today in the region championship game.
Against the Tigers, the Chargers will need all the goals they can get, pretty or ugly.
“A goal’s a goal,” Trainham said Thursday. “They all count.”
Chancellor coach Jim Larkin called Trainham one of his team’s hardest workers. Midway through an even-possession first half, she went crashing to the cage following a shot by Neylon.
With the rebound loose in front of the goal, Trainham poked and prodded and poked some more, finally pushing the ball past Bruton keeper Haley Gardner for a 1–0 advantage.
“It was a scrappy goal,” Larkin said. “It was good to see her get one. She works really, really hard for us. That’s why she’s a captain.”
Hull was in the forefront for Chancellor’s two pretty second-half goals that secured the victory.
The first came on a corner four minutes after the break. She fielded Chloe Fernandez’s insert cleanly, and let loose a punishing blast that banged hard against the back of the goal.
For all the precision four-girl passing hockey teams sometimes try on corners, frequently just a good insert and a rocket toward the goal is the best play.
“Usually it’s the quickest and easiest,” Hull said.
She’s had the hard shot dialed in both of the last two days.
Hull scored three goals and assisted on another in Wednesday’s quarterfinal win against York with the same simple-but-effective corner play.
She said early in the season, she missed on a lot of those same chances, failing to connect with the same crispness and force she’s shown this week.
“She’s definitely more focused with it,” Larkin said. “I think it’s just been a confidence thing. It’s just a matter of her believing in herself.
“I think it took one or two real solid connections for her to believe that she can stroke it.”
Neylon’s goal also ran through Hull after a corner insert by Fernandez with 7:34 remaining.
Hull dumped the ball to her left for an easy finish by Neylon, and the Chargers had a secure 3–0 margin.
Chancellor allowed just one penalty corner to Bruton and only two on-target shots, even though the midfield possession with the Panthers was even.
And now the Chargers are off to the Region I final, knowing regardless of today’s result, they’ve got a spot reserved in the state tournament.
“It’s a powerful feeling,” Trainham said. “If this is how good it feels just to be in the tournament, I don’t even know how it would feel to win the state tournament.”
Justin Rice: 540/368-5045