Lakeland wins Salem tournament

Published 9:29 pm Monday, August 30, 2010

Lakeland senior Kelsey Smither makes a pass inside the McLean scoring arc during the final match of the Salem Invitational Tournament Saturday in Virginia Beach. Lakeland won the tournament, going 4-0 to do it, with a 1-0 victory against McLean.

The Lakeland Lady Cavaliers want to achieve more and bigger firsts this field hockey season, but they started the season with a good first and a nice trophy this weekend by rolling off four straight wins to claim their first Salem Invitational Tournament title.

The Lady Cavs, with Tara Worley as head coach, have been playing in the Salem event for more than a decade. The primary points are facing good competition and playing on the artificial turf at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center.

In going 4-0, the Lady Cavs got a couple blowouts and a couple relatively close matches. Lakeland edged McLean 1-0 in the final Saturday evening, but the match was much closer to being a four- or five- goal Lakeland win than it was to a draw or McLean win.

The Lady Cavaliers outshot McLean 22-0 and had a 12-0 advantage in penalty corners.

“I was just trying to get them to relax during timeouts and at halftime. We were getting too frustrated. We weren’t playing through some of the fouls that weren’t being called,” Worley said.

In the opening half, Lakeland kept the game in McLean’s half of the field for all except a couple short stretches.

McLean was steady and organized. During the run of play, when Lakeland had the ball in or around the McLean arc, all 11 Lady Highlanders were back within 25 yards of their goal.

After letting eight penalty corners go by the boards in the first half, Lakeland cashed in its first corner chance of the second half.

Just over two minutes after the break, Jennifer Hedrick started the set play from the corner. Kendell Combs slapped a hard drive on goal. McLean’s keeper kicked the shot away, but right back to Combs and Combs sent a rolling shot by the keeper and into the cage.

Combs scored six goals in the four tournament games. Taylor Young led Lakeland (5-0) with eight goals. Kelsey Smither had seven assists in the tournament.

“It’s always been a great event for us,” Worley said. “It’s good to get a lot of games under your belt early on. You can work out some kinks and fix what needs to be fixed.”

The National Training Center will host the Southeastern District, Eastern Region and Group AAA State tournaments from late October through mid November.

The Lady Cavaliers get back into district play Wednesday, going to Western Branch for a 5 p.m. start. Western Branch finished second in the Southeastern to Lakeland, in the regular season and the tournament, last season.