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Group AAA Field Hockey: Wildcats survive, move on to semis
MOUNTAIN VIEW DEFENSE SWEEPS AWAY DELUGE OF WESTFIELD OPPORTUNITIES
BY JUSTIN RICE
CHANTILLY—Exhausted and weary from a test unlike any they had faced this season, Mountain View’s defenders lined up again in their own goal to try to stop one more penalty corner against Westfield on Tuesday in the Group AAA field hockey quarterfinals.
“We were just saying, ‘This is our game,’” goalie Caitlin Nolan said. “‘We deserve it. We’ve worked so hard. It’s time for us to finally finish.’”
And finish they did.
Cox 2, Cosby 0
Mountain View 2, Westfield 1
First Colonial 12, Thomas Dale 0
Stafford 2, South County 1, OT
at NTC (Virginia Beach)
at NTC (Virginia Beach)
Cox vs. Mountain View, 11 a.m.
First Colonial vs. Stafford, 1 p.m.
Nolan made one last stop and senior Bryce Barnes made a no-room-for-error stick save with time expired, and the Wildcats survived a second-half Bulldogs barrage for a 2–1 win.
Mountain View will play Eastern Region runner-up Cox at 11 a.m. Friday in the state semifinals at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach.
The Wildcats (22–1) will go to the beach knowing they’ve already passed one excruciating test.
“We’ve worked so hard all season long,” Mountain View coach Pattie Sullivan said. “I told them: ‘If we get through this game, we’re on our way. We’re not stopping now.’”
The opening minutes should have been a clue to how the game was going to go.
Senior defender Colleen Hoffman had to make a stick save behind Nolan in the first 90 seconds of the game, and Westfield dominated play for the first stretch of the contest.
Still, Mountain View steadied itself.
Olivia Hubert scored on a bouncing shot off a corner inserted by Caitlyn Maffia—the Wildcats’ only corner of the game—to give Mountain View a 1–0 lead with 23:15 left in the first half, and Hubert assisted Gretchen Geisler for a 2–0 advantage 17 minutes later.
Westfield answered back before the break, getting a goal by Katie Winesett, who scored off a rebound after a shot by Meghan Winesett.
But if the first half was even—maybe even with a slight possession edge to Westfield—the second half was all Bulldogs and the Mountain View defense.
“I think they worked their middle better than most teams we’re used to,” Barnes said. “We’re still working on that.”
Westfield earned nine corners in the second half, including four straight in the first five minutes of the period, none of which netted a goal.
Two more corners came back-to-back with 16 minutes to play, but again Mountain View kept the ball out of the cage.
“There wasn’t much time for thinking,” Mountain View senior Morgan Skavdahl said. “It was instinct. Play the ball, play the ball. I didn’t have downtime to just go, ‘Ahhhhh.’”
And then in the last minute, there were two final Westfield corners.
In field hockey, the game continues—even after time expires—until the defense has cleared the ball from its circle.
Mountain View brushed the first corner away, but was called for a foul. The Wildcats lined back up again, knowing the clock had reached zero.
“I knew we had less than a minute left and there was no way we were going to overtime,” Barnes said. “We had worked too hard.”
Nolan blocked the first shot, but the rebound found a Bulldog stick. Barnes made a diving stop behind Nolan on the follow-up, getting just enough of the ball to allow the defense to sweep it away from the circle.
“We’ve been working all season long for this moment, for this make-or-break corner,” Skavdahl said. “We just knew, as a defense, it wasn’t going in the goal.”
Justin Rice: 540/368-5045