Lakeland takes home tourney

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 24, 2002

Nicole Debein and Katelyn Smither had one goal and one assist each and Heather Byrd a goal as Lakeland won its second consecutive Southeastern District tournament title Thursday, defeating Great Bridge 3-0 at Nansemond River High School. It was the second 3-0 victory in as many days for the Lady Cavaliers, who knocked off Western Branch in the semifinals on Wednesday.

&uot;It feels really good to win this,&uot; said freshman goalkeeper Kelsey Cutchins, who recorded her second tournament shutout. &uot;I was nervous out there, but my defense really played their best – like they always do.&uot;

The win capped off a triumphant week for Lakeland, a five-days period in which they won both their second consecutive Southeastern district title and the tournament. The Lady Cavaliers held off Nansemond River 2-1 in the district playoff game on Monday, then swept Western Branch and Great Bridge in the tournament.

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&uot;You played really hard today, and it feels great to win this,&uot; Lakeland coach Tara McClenney told her team. &uot;But we can’t stop getting better, because teams are going to start seeing us as a way to get to the next level.&uot; Lakeland’s district victory gave them a birth in the Eastern Region tournament, which they’ll begin by taking on Norfolk’s Granby High School at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at Virginia Beach’s Kellam High School. Lakeland defeated Granby in a preseason game in September.

After neither team gained a distinct advantage for the first 14 minutes of Thursday’s game, Lakeland got a corner shot. From the left side of the Great Bridge goal, Ashley McCord passed to Nicole Klee, who was standing near the left sideline.

Klee spun the ball along the endline toward the middle of the circle. As it made it past the Lady Wildcat goalkeeper, Smither leaped forward, attempting to deflect it in. The ball bounced over Smither’s stick, and nearly passed the goal. But Debien charged forward and smacked it in to break the scoreless tie.

Smither got her goal 90 seconds into the second half. On a breakaway down the right sideline, Debien shot a bouncing pass toward the right goalpost. But just before the ball went out of bounds, Smither dived toward it and knocked it in.

&uot;I knew it was going out, so I tried as hard as I could to get a touch on it,&uot; she said. &uot;We played hard today, and we’re going to have to play harder if we’re going to keep winning.&uot; Smither’s assist came with just under 10 minutes left, when she drew the keeper out and sent a pass across the right side of the goal where Byrd was waiting to ice the game.