Support Saints and Lady Cavs

Published 11:14 pm Saturday, November 14, 2009

This fall is the first fall since I started at the News-Herald, in Aug. 2004, that Suffolk’s had two high school teams reach the semifinals of a state tournament.

Unfortunately with the four days and four nights of rain, it’s turned out that Lakeland’s field hockey match and Nansemond-Suffolk’s football game will be played simultaneously on Monday evening and I’ll be missing out on NSA’s game.

Nansemond-Suffolk and Portsmouth Christian met six weeks ago in a great game that was still in doubt with seconds to go. Both the Saints and Patriots improved as the season went along, making a rematch in the state semifinals as interesting as it is crucial.

Portsmouth Christian, in its third season of playing football, wants to prove what its program has quickly grown into. NSA, after a few down seasons compared to usual winning seasons and making the state playoffs on a regular basis, is actually in a position similar to the upstart Patriots. The “respect card” might be played too often at all levels of sports, but it honestly fits for both Portsmouth Christian and NSA here.

Any football fan who wants to see two teams go at it 100 percent should get over to NSA Monday evening. As a Cleveland Browns fan, I can guarantee the game at NSA will be a better show than sitting on the couch and watching the Ravens toy around with the Browns as usual.

Five years ago as a stringer for the News-Herald, the first full field hockey match I’d ever seen was one I was covering.

Thankfully, Nansemond River’s field has a scoreboard and NR’s coach, Darryl Yandle, is a very nice guy. If not for both of those facts, I would’ve thought and reported that the Lady Warriors won 4-3 that day instead of winning 3-0. The rule that a goal doesn’t count unless it comes from inside the arc, that’s a good first rule to learn about field hockey.

Slowly, surely, but certainly not perfectly, I’ve learned about field hockey during the seasons since then, and the more you understand a sport, the more you appreciate the talent and hard work the athletes put into it.

As the case is with any sport, when two very good teams meet, the result is entertaining. That will definitely be true in Lakeland’s semifinal game against Mountain View.

Add to that the artificial turf at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center and field hockey becomes even faster. The turf rewards and shows off speed, athleticism, coordination and passing and shooting ability.

The Lady Cavaliers have all of those qualities. In comes the part where I’m getting there, but I’m still somewhere around fourth grade with field hockey, but Monday will be the first time I’ve seen Mountain View play. Since Mountain View’s made it this far though, it’s safe to assume the same thing for its team.

So for any sports fan, or especially any Lakeland supporters who have come out to plenty of football or basketball games, but never a field hockey match, let me encourage you to drive over to Virginia Beach if you have the time to Monday evening (7 p.m.). It’ll be worth it, even if you don’t become a field hockey expert overnight.