Shooting for excitement – and victories!

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 7, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Both Suffolk high schools gave the crowd an avalanche of excitement on Saturday in the closing rounds of the Suffolk Invitational Field Hockey Tournament at Nansemond River, as the host Lady Warriors scored three goals in the last 10 minutes to send the game to overtime, which they won for third place, and Katelyn Smither knocked in a penalty shot in overtime to give Lakeland first place in the tournament.

After River opened the game with a 2-1 defeat of Great Bridge, Jessica Watahovich scored their first goal against Landstown. But the Lady Eagles went on the attack for the next 30 minutes, notching a 4-1 lead as the game ticked down to the 10-minute mark.


Email newsletter signup

By then, said River’s Ashley Aston, the team knew it had only one more breath of life. &uot;The only way we could come back was heart,&uot; Aston said. &uot;Everyone got really motivated, and we stepped up our game.&uot;

They certainly did. With eight minutes to go, Ali Mowry knocked a pass by a defender to the right post, where Aston was waiting to knock it in.

Fired up, the Lady Warriors went right back on the attack. Three minutes later, Tiffany Porter bounced a shot off the goalkeeper’s pads. It went directly to Aston, who slammed home her second goal.

Their momentum soaring, River got a corner shot with three minutes left. The ball went to Megan Belch, who slammed a shot at the goalkeeper. It bounced off her pads, and, again, went to Aston, who completed the first hat trick of her varsity career.

&uot;We got more and more pumped up every time the ball went in,&uot; Aston said. &uot;Everyone was going to do whatever it took to score.&uot;

They continued to do so in the overtime period. After River kept the ball on the Landstown side for nearly all of the first three minutes, Mowry dribbled down the right side, and knocked a pass across the middle to Heather Horton. Horton bolted forward, shot the ball into the left side of the cage, and gave River third place.

&uot;We were all so excited and happy that we came together as a team,&uot; Mowry said. &uot;We still have a lot of room for improvement.&uot; The Lady Warriors finished the tournament with a record of 3-1.

In the championship game, Lakeland (who defeated Churchland in an earlier game) tried to take it to Maury right from the start, but the Lady Commodores, who defeated River on Friday, came right back, matching them shot for shot. With 10 minutes to go, however, Katelyn Smither broke away from the pack near the 25-yard line, and bolted down the right side. Nearing the Maury goal, she passed to Nicole Klee on the left side of the circle. Klee’s shot bounced off the goalkeeper’s pads and went to Brittany West, who passed to Smither for the first goal.

Both teams missed several scoring opportunities for the remainder of regulation (in the final five minutes, Lakeland goalkeeper Kelsey Cutchins foiled two one-on-one breakaways, and the ball did get past her once, but Melissa Dunn caught up to it before it went in). With only 30 seconds to play, Cristin Newbold slipped through the Lady Cavalier defense and knotted the score, giving Maury all the momentum.

Smither called her team together. &uot;I told them that we had done that to ourselves, and now we needed to dig ourselves out of the hole,&uot; she said.

Lakeland was unable to duplicate its feat against Granby on Friday, when the team scored 28 seconds into overtime for the victory. In fact, Cutchins had to fight off three shots in the extra period. But with 2:30 to go, Lakeland got a penalty shot at the 25-yard line, and Lindsay Kelly pushed it to Ashley McCord, who broke down the left side. She shot a pass to Smither, who raced past a defender to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The defender came up behind and tripped her, giving Smither a penalty shot.

Though Smither had already scored seven goals in the tournament, she’d been unlucky with the strokes, missing two in earlier games. After missing a potential game-winner against Granby, she’d headed over to Lakeland to practice the free shot.

&uot;I didn’t really try to change anything,&uot; she said. &uot;I just wanted to prove I could still do it.&uot; She did so, knocking the ball into the bottom left corner of the net, giving her team the tournament and herself the Most Valuable Player award. Kelly, McCord and Alice Carnegie were named to the All-Tournament team.