Mountain View beats Lady Cavs in last minute

Published 12:04 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lakeland’s field hockey season took the Lady Cavaliers to the state semifinals and primetime under the lights Monday night at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center. Unfortunately for the Lady Cavaliers, that’s where their season ended as Mountain View, with the game-winning goal coming with under a minute to play, beat Lakeland 2-1.

Mountain View, the Northwest Region champions, held Lakeland’s normally potent offense in check nearly all night. The Lady Wildcats held Lakeland to four total shots. Lakeland had zero penalty corners on the night, where are usually a source of excellent scoring chances for the Lady Cavs.

“Mountain View did a very good job of taking us out of our game,” said Lakeland head coach Tara Worley.

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“Our girls had a hard time tonight focusing on doing what got us here,” said Worley.

The start of the match couldn’t have been any better for the Lady Cavaliers.

Lakeland’s midfield leader, Kelsey Smither, had success early on dribbling through midfield and just past four minutes in Smither moved over the midfield stripe and a couple strides later, sent a pass ahead to Brittany Milteer as she sprinted into the Mountain View arc.

Milteer sent a bouncing cross across the face of the goal and Kendell Combs slapped the ball into the cage from near the left post, giving Lakeland an easy-looking 1-0 lead 4:07 into the match.

As the remaining 56 minutes played out, that one rush into the Mountain View arc was the only easy thing the Lady Wildcats allowed.

Thanks to outstanding goalkeeping from senior Marissa Betkowski, Lakeland’s lead stood through the rest of the first half.

Betkowski made six saves in the half, including kicking away a blistered shot off a corner with under two minutes to play before half.

Back Megan Johnson also turned in a defensive save in the later stages of the first half, volleying away a Mountain View shot on goal, with Betkowski still recovering and getting into position after making a save a second before.

Halftime didn’t change the flow of the match and Mountain View, with a goal by Bailey Hubert, evened the match 3:36 into the new half.

Lakeland’s best chance to retake the lead, and perhaps hold on to a slim victory, came with just over 20 minutes left.

An attack into the arc by Combs and Taylor Young resulted in a shot on goal by Young striking the foot of a Mountain View player, earning Lakeland a penalty stroke.

Smither took the stroke, but her shot was stopped by the Lady Wildcat keeper with a full-length dive toward the base of the left post.

Betkowski turned away a Mountain View corner, saving a hard shot with a head-high blocker save, as the clock ticked under four minutes to go. Betkowski finished with nine saves.

Mountain View kept most of the action in Lakeland’s half though and earned another corner with just over a minute left. Shelby Milligan’s big drive from the top of the arc found the back of the cage.

“It’s the same thing I told the girls, we leave here with our heads held high. This is the first time we made it this far and early on in the season, just getting here was a big goal,” said Worley.

Mountain View moves on to face Cox, the traditional field hockey power of the state. Cox won its first two state tournament matches by a combined score of 22-0.

Lakeland finishes the season as the Southeastern District regular season champion for the 10th straight season and the SED Tournament champion for the ninth straight season. The Lady Cavaliers finish with a 20-3 record.