Lakeland can’t stop Cox

Published 6:33 pm Friday, November 6, 2009

The day after clinching the first state tournament berth in program history, Lakeland’s field hockey team had to go up against the three-time defending state champions Cox. With the turning point being two Cox goals in a span of 1:19 just before halftime, Cox won its 18th Eastern Region Tournament title with a 4-1 victory.

Lakeland, in search of its first regional title, put pressure on Cox for some stretches of the match, but the Lady Falcons were in charge most of the way.

Cox finished with a 24-6 advantage in shots and a 9-4 margin in penalty corners. Lakeland senior goalie Marissa Betkowski made 11 saves and her play for most of the first half kept the Lady Cavaliers in the contest.

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In the first few minutes of the match, Lakeland had a fair amount of the ball and the play was seemingly 50-50.

One quick rush up the field by Cox changed everything when Kelsey Rosenmeier dribbled the ball through midfield and a couple quick passes later, Cara Witte swept in a sharp crossing pass on her first touch for a goal. The first shot on goal for either side made it 1-0 Cox 7:00 into the match.

Over the next 20 minutes, Betkowski was needed for six saves and while the Lady Cavaliers were holding on defensively, it wasn’t until inside the final 10 minutes of the half that they put a threat on the Cox goal.

With the clock going under six minutes, Lakeland had back-to-back penalty corners. The second corner produced a hard shot by Kelsey Smither and Jennifer Hedrick was first to the rebound and sent a shot barely wide of the right post.

That flurry was immediately followed by a Cox timeout and Cox poured on the offensive pressure in the final few minutes of the half.

With 2:18 remaining, Rosenmeier scored on a rebound as Cox converted a corner. With 0:59 left, Casey DiNardo scored off a pass from Taylor Rhea. Suddenly, Cox led by a comfortable 3-0 margin at halftime.

The Lady Cavaliers scored in the 43rd minute. Smither started the play with a restart about 30 yards from the Cox cage. Moving the ball down the right flank, Hedrick sent in a crossing pass from near the endline and Kendell Combs swept her stick and met the ball, sending a shot into the upper left corner of the cage.

Once again, life from Lakeland only spurred on Cox. Just over two minutes later, with 15:30 left in the match, Cox’s Susie Bousquet scored to make it 4-1.

“I thought we played well today,” said Lakeland head coach Tara Worley.

“We put some pressure on them and we had opportunities, but we didn’t finish them. They had opportunities and they don’t miss many opportunities,” said Worley.

As regional runners-up, Lakeland (19-2) has to go on the road for its state tournament quarterfinal game on Tuesday. The Lady Cavaliers will travel to face Central Region champion Thomas Dale (16-1-1).

Worley admitted she didn’t know much about Thomas Dale, but she said she’d be finding everything she could about the Central Region champions this weekend.