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Maury survives two Lakeland comebacks

NORFOLK – In a matchup of two of the best field hockey programs in the Eastern Region, Lakeland fought back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to force overtime, but Maury scored 2:48 into overtime to take a 4-3 victory.

In Lakeland’s first three matches of the season, all Southeastern District wins, the Lady Cavaliers outscored their opponents 29-0. Friday’s match at Powhatan Field was many steps up in competition against a team which traditionally tops the Eastern District.

Maury controlled most of the early going and struck for a goal just three minutes in when Tollie Bell finished a long run with possession by flicking the ball past Lakeland goalkeeper Marissa Betkowski as she tried to come off her line.

Much of the first half remained the same with Maury showing quick and incisive passing. With eight minutes remaining in the half, Maury went up 2-0 on the first of two goals by Lindsay Vellines.

The big change in momentum came in the final minute of the half. After being outshot 9-1 up to this point in the match, the Lady Cavaliers put pressure on inside the Maury arc and Kendell Combs finished the play with a backhand shot off a rebound.

Less than four minutes after the break, Kaity Byrum intercepted a Maury pass in the middle of the field about 35 yards from goal. She advanced the ball toward the top of the arc, sent a pass toward Combs in the center of the arc. Combs, with her back to goal and with Maury goalie Emily Pope coming out to defend Combs, turned and shot. Pope deflected that shot away, but Kristin Buck was stationed at the left post and she tucked the rebound in under Pope’s pads as she dove.

In about four minutes of play, Lakeland changed a game going almost entirely Maury’s way into a 2-2 tie.

Maury regained the lead with 19:04 remaining. A Maury penalty corner set off a wild sequence inside the Lakeland arc. Betkowski turned away three shots on frame, but Maury kept coming and Vellines scored to make it 3-2 Maury.

Five minutes later, Lakeland answered again as Buck scored again, and on a play similar to her first goal. Kelsey Smither started the attack on the dribble from midfield, then by launching a hard drive into the center of the Maury arc.

Taylor Young deflected the ball toward the left post. With Pope caught out of position and the attack forming so quickly Maury couldn’t get many defenders back, Buck was all alone at her post as she volleyed the ball into the cage.

On a hot day on Powhatan Field’s artificial turf, the last few minutes of regulation were hectic as both teams had scoring chances and both teams fought to keep going. For Lakeland, Byrum and Smither, head coach Tara Worley’s two center midfielders, did the most running and had the biggest challenge with the heat and stamina.

Byrum and Worley thought they had a late go-ahead goal when Byrum tried to stuff in a rebound from less than a yard off the goal line. Byrum and Worley thought the ball cleared the line, but referee told Worley she didn’t see the ball over the line.

Sixty minutes left a 3-3 tie, moving the game into 7-on-7, sudden-death overtime.

Two minutes into overtime, Lakeland gained a penalty corner, one of only three on the day. Smither got a shot on goal, but Pope saved it. Maury cleared the ball and turned it directly into a 2-on-1 break on Lakeland’s goal.

Maury’s two were its two goal scorers, Bell and Vellines. Vellines dribbled past the last Lakeland defender, Olivia Graham, then passed across the goal as Betkowski made a diving attempt to check the ball away. Bell had an easy tap-in for the game-winner.

Maury finished with an 18-11 shot advantage. Betkowski made nine saves for the Lady Cavaliers.

“I leave this game feeling very good,” said Worley, “that team is young. I lose only one person from that team this year.”

“To play a team like Maury and play them that tough, I’m very proud of this team right now.”

Lakeland’s game against Nansemond River, originally scheduled for Sept. 19 in Virginia Beach, has been changed to Wednesday, Sept. 17 at Lakeland. The Salem Invitational Tournament, which Lakeland (3-1, 3-0) is in, was postponed because of Hanna and is scheduled for Sept. 19 and 20 at Salem.