Lakeland, Hickory play to fight cancer
VIRGINIA BEACH – When Lakeland and Hickory meet on a field hockey field, it’s already a big deal. The Hawks, who reached the Southeastern District final against Lakeland last fall, are one of the main challengers if anyone’s going to stop Lakeland’s run of eight straight SED titles.
Friday evening’s match in Virginia Beach had the expected hard-fought competition between the two sides, but there was a bigger meaning than just district standings.
Friday’s game at the U.S. National Training Center was played in memory of Kim Byrum, mother of Lakeland senior Kaity Byrum and Hickory head coach, and Kaity’s older sister, Hannah Jones. Byrum passed away on May 21 after a six-year battle with cancer.
“Stx Up to Cancer” was the theme of the day, which came from Kaity. Instead of the usual ticket to get into the game, all the spectators made donations which went to the American Cancer Society.
Lakeland remained perfect in the Southeastern District with a 3-1 victory, getting goals from Kendell Combs, Kelsey Smither and Kristin Buck.
In the first few minutes, Hickory possessed the ball well, made a couple forays into the Lakeland half, but made no major threat on the Cavalier cage. That made little difference to Lakeland head coach Tara Worley, who called a timeout four minutes into the match.
Worley’s message paid off as 10 minutes later, Lakeland was up 2-0.
Byrum created the first goal by dribbling into the Hickory arc and blasting a shot from the top of the arc which was deflected past the Hickory keeper by Combs.
A few minutes later, a penalty corner started with Byrum passing to the top of the arc where Combs settled the ball and Smither drove a hard liner just inside the right post of the Hickory cage.
Hickory held off the Lady Cavs through the rest of the first half, but virtually all of the game was played in the Hickory half.
Lakeland made it 3-0 in the 42nd minute when Alyssa Chirico’s low cross in from the right wing was smacked into the cage on a crisp one-time shot by Buck from a step inside the penalty spot.
Hickory got on the board in the final minutes via a penalty corner.
“Hickory played great and came ready to play today. We are very young team, but we are a very good team. Right now, we are struggling with consistency. We can’t have games like today, where we don’t play to our potential. This is the key to our success in the future,” said Worley, whose team is 9-2 overall and 5-0 in the district.
Next up for Lakeland is a home match versus King’s Fork on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. The Lady Cavaliers defeated Nansemond River 3-1 on Sept. 17.