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Group AAA Field Hockey: Indians’ scant shots stand up

BY JUSTIN RICE

Stafford’s field hockey team has depended on its defense all season.

So it seems appropriate that it’s on the strength of those superb stoppers that the Indians’ season will end with a trip to Virginia Beach.

    GROUP AAA

    Tuesday’s quarterfinals

    Cox 2, Cosby 0

    Mountain View 2, Westfield 1

    First Colonial 12, Thomas Dale 0

    Stafford 2, South County 1, OT

    Friday’s semifinals

    at NTC (Virginia Beach)

    Cox vs. Mountain View, 11 a.m.

    First Colonial vs. Stafford, 1 p.m.

Stafford scored early, gave up a game-tying penalty stroke late, and then Cassie Hooghouse found the cage two minutes into overtime to lift the Indians to a 2–1 win over South County on Tuesday in the Group AAA quarterfinals.

Stafford (18–5), a team that took its lumps in the first part of the season, will play First Colonial at 1 p.m. Friday in the state semifinals at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach. It’s a fate that seemed unlikely when the Indians were struggling at times early this year in district play.

“No one thought we would get this far,” said senior McKenzie Bowler, who had Stafford’s first goal Tuesday. “That’s why I love this team. We’re together now. We feel unstoppable right now.”

Bowler’s goal—on a nifty give-and-go pass by Natalie Bohmke off a corner—came on one of only two on-target shots for the Indians during regulation. But the early lead allowed Stafford to play to its strength: stopping opponents inside its own defensive circle.

And its a good thing that’s Stafford’s strength, because South County controlled play for most of the two halves.

The game started with the Stallions on the attack and, even after Bowler scored off the Indians’ first corner and first real offensive chance 14 minutes into the game, was played mostly on Stafford’s defensive end. Stafford had just one on-target shot and one corner in the second half.

South County finished with 11 corners and eight shots on goal.

“We kept trying to get it to our attacking side,” Stafford coach Dani Woodie said, “but they’re a very strong team. We knew that coming in.

“They definitely were trying to overpower us physically, and that took a toll on us and gave us trouble getting the ball down the field.”

With Bohmke and Bowler the back-line anchors and Kelsey Trainor playing well in goal, Stafford didn’t make a defensive mistake for the first 57 minutes of the game. But South County did eventually break through.

On a Stallions attack with 3:20 to play, Trainor made one stop, but fell on the ball trying to save the rebound.

Stephanie Halsted converted the resulting penalty stroke for South County and the game was tied.

“You can’t defend everything,” Bohmke said. “Kelsey did her job when we needed her to every other time. Since we were already up by one, we knew we still had time.”

Bowler said there was no panic. She said she thought Stafford would have an advantage in the seven-on-seven overtime. And if there was an Indians edge, it didn’t take long to exploit.

South County earned a corner in the first minute of overtime, but Stafford cleared the ball and Hooghouse helped key a breakout with a pass up to Lindsey Lysher. Lysher carried into the Stallions’ circle, and crossed the ball to Elizabeth Brownell. Her shot was stopped, but Hooghouse was there to collect the rebound and lift it over the South County goalie.

And just like that, Stafford—a team that looked so far down two months ago—booked its trip to Virginia Beach and the state semifinals.

“We’ve had some battle scars,” Woodie said. “But I think some of those scars woke us up and allowed us to work harder. And that’s the reason we are where we are now.”

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045

jrice@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/sports/2012/11/07/group-aaa-field-hockey-indians-scant-shots-stand-up/

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