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Prep Group AA/A Field Hockey Final: Overtime goal gives Chancellor its third state title

COLLEY SLAMS TIGERS’

COFFIN WITH SHOT

BY JUSTIN RICE

VIRGINIA BEACH—Chancellor’s Chloe Fernandez knew it. So did teammates Katherine Hull and Greer Trainham. There was no doubt, they all said.

And when Chargers coach Jim Larkin saw Hull’s overtime pass rolling to junior Kate Colley, standing just a few feet from the Tabb goal with no defenders in front of her, he knew it, too: This team would join the rest of Chancellor’s immortal few—enshrined in school history as state champions.

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Colley’s shot—coming off a penalty corner less than three minutes into overtime—was struck true and rolled into the Tabb cage and Chancellor beat the Tigers, 2–1, on Saturday for the school’s third Group AA/A field hockey state title and first since 2006.

“I told them before the game, ‘Visualize it. Close your eyes. Go into our gym,’” Larkin said. “‘Look at the banners. We put that up on the wall, and that’s immortal. You’re up there for life.’ This is an outstanding team, and we took the four-time defending state champion to overtime and beat them. That’s about character and heart.”

Indeed Tabb was the four-time Group AA/A champions, a run unmatched in the tournament’s history. The Tigers hadn’t even given up a goal in its last three state finals. but Chancellor stayed with Tabb every step of the way Saturday.

“I think they’re just a strong team,” Tabb coach Wendy Wilson said. “It was overtime [in the Region I final]; it was overtime this time. It just came down to a battle of wits, so to speak.”

Colley scored her goal and was immediately mobbed by Fernandez and Chelsea Galera. And then the trio rushed to join their teammates for a tear-filled celebration, first among the Chargers in uniform, and then with the large group of family and Chancellor hockey alumni who had made the journey down to the National Training Center.

“It doesn’t even feel real right now,” Colley said. “I’m still trying to process what happened.”

What happened was a corner play unlike most of those Chancellor has run all season, and even all game Saturday.

Fernandez is always the inserter. The pass almost always goes to Hull. But the junior midfielder and Battlefield District player of the year usually takes a hard shot herself, or dribbles right and looks for a passing option.

This time, she dumped the ball to the left.

“The plan was Katherine to Jordan [Rasure] and then a shot,” Colley said. “I was wide open and called for it. I was screaming her name and she passed it and I finished it.”

Colley’s goal ended a back-and-forth game which saw Chancellor take an early lead and a Tabb answer to start the second half.

Fernandez was on the receiving end of Trainham’s pass with 11 minutes remaining in the first half, and she scored a clean goal for a 1–0 advantage.

Tabb countered five minutes into the second half. Madison Landers inserted a corner to Alison Harmatz, who had a nice shot toward the goal that evened the game.

Chancellor wasn’t rattled, though.

“We really picked it up,” Hull said. “We didn’t let them take it to us. We just kept pushing. They scored, and we knew what we had to do and it ended up pretty good.”

Larkin hoped a pair of corners at the end of regulation would deliver the win. The first led to a shot that was fouled to give Chancellor a second corner. The re-do was cleared easily by Tabb and the teams quickly gathered for a break before overtime.

“No doubt,” Larkin reminded his players huddled close, and they echoed the sentiment back at him.

“I had no doubt we were still going to win,” Trainham said. “I knew they didn’t want it as much as we did.”

Chancellor goalie Johnni Tillman was strong in goal, and was supported well by defenders Rasure, Kaila Bernard, Kenzie Neylon and Erin Bushman.

“That’s what being a team is: Coming together and doing everything you can for each other, because we’re all pulling for the same goal,” Bernard said. “[Tillman] tries so hard, with every ounce of her being. I don’t know how we could have done this without her.”

Larkin frequently encourages his players—during practices and games—to visualize the next play, the next game, the next opportunity.

Colley said she has tried to picture the exact situation so many times—the chance to score the winning goal that delivered Chancellor the state title it’s been so thirsty for.

“I’ve been imagining it for the last two weeks,” she said. “What am I going to do? How is it going to go? I went through every possible way I could score. Even before that corner, I was visualizing it.

“And then it went in.”

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045

jrice@freelancestar.com

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