Ninth is nice for Lady Cavaliers

Published 12:22 am Saturday, October 31, 2009

VIRGINIA BEACH – Led by Taylor Young’s hat trick and four assists by Kelsey Smither, Lakeland won its ninth consecutive Southeastern District Field Hockey Tournament Friday with a 6-1 victory over Western Branch.

The Lady Cavaliers beat Western Branch 2-0 during the regular season in the closest district match Lakeland faced this season.

In Friday’s final, Lakeland scored three goals in the opening 14 minutes. Western Branch took the match to the Lady Cavaliers in stretches over the next half hour of the match. The Lady Bruins scored with just over 17 minutes to go in the match, but the WB goal only sparked the Lady Cavaliers to resume the rout and Lakeland scored three times in a 7:00 span to finish the win.

Lakeland blitzed the Lady Bruins right from the start. By the time Brittany Milteer’s goal made it 3-0 Lakeland in the 14th minute, Lakeland had a 13-1 advantage in shots and had earned seven penalty corners, turning the corners into the three goals.

In the sixth minute, Kendell Combs’ shot from the top of the arc was saved, but four Lakeland players outnumbered two Lady Bruins defenders and the WB keeper and Young poked the rebound across the goal line.

Three minutes later, another Lakeland corner led to a goal by Alyssa Chirico from an assist by Smither. Five minutes later, it was a Smither shot that caused a long rebound, Milteer controlled the ball and scored from about 12 yards out to make it 3-0.

“After the three early goals, which we got because we came out hard, I think we kind of settled,” said Lakeland head coach Tara Worley.

Western Branch had two dangerous trips into the Lakeland arc in the first three minutes of the second half, causing a timeout by Lakeland and Worley to meet her team right in the middle of the field, about 40 yards from Lakeland’s bench.

The timeout wasn’t motivation enough though as the Lady Bruins kept coming and scored with 17:11 remaining in the match. The goal was the second of the year by an SED opponent against Lakeland.

“As soon as they scored, our intensity picked right back up, but that’s a really important lesson because from here on out, we can’t afford to let that happen,” said Worley.

Instead of Western Branch continuing to gain control of the match and maybe cutting Lakeland’s lead down to one narrow goal, the Lady Cavaliers answered only 2:10 later.

On a restart at the top of the Western Branch arc, Chirico intercepted the Lady Bruin clearance and quickly passed to Combs at the top of the WB arc. Despite having a long-range shot, Combs pushed the ball and it had enough pace to beat the Lady Bruin goalie just inside the right post.

Fifty-nine seconds later, at the 13:50 mark, a hard drive by Smither was redirected into the goal by Young to make it 5-1 Lady Cavaliers. With 7:51 remaining, it was Smither-to-Young again for a goal, this time on a corner for Lakeland fourth goal out of 11 corner chances in the match.

Lakeland outshot WB 25-8 for the match. Marissa Betkowski made three saves in goal for Lakeland.

Lakeland (17-1) now goes into the Eastern Region Tournament and will face Ocean Lakes, the No. 2 seed from the Beach District, on Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center. Lakeland defeated Ocean Lakes 4-0 at the National Training Center on Sept. 18.

“I hope it gives our team some confidence, but we can’t be over-confident, that’s the challenge. That was the middle of the season. Ocean Lakes has gotten better and I think we’ve gotten better since then,” said Worley.