A great show for sure

Published 8:01 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2010

At Lakeland’s last home field hockey match of the season, eight seniors were honored by head coach Tara Worley.

Since last season, and reaching the state semifinals, the Lady Cavaliers have been on the short list of state title favorites.

From the start of the season, the Lady Cavalier seniors knew, but even cherished and said they are pushed by, the idea of really having just one goal left, a state championship.

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On Senior Day, Worley said, however and in whatever match this season ends, it was going to be difficult once it’s over.

What Worley seemed to mean, at least on the surface, was what her varsity roster will look like once most of her starting lineup graduates.

Knowing the 21 straight (11 regular-season and 10 tournament) district titles Lakeland’s won, though, Worley and her Lady Cavs are way past the point of ever needing a rebuilding season. Lakeland’s the definite district favorite until proven otherwise, and proven otherwise a couple times over.

I think Worley was referring more to everything this class of eight players has given to Lakeland’s program, and hence, one another.

Combining the varsity letters for Kendell Combs, Taylor Young, Brittany Milteer, Megan Johnson, Jennifer Hedrick, Marissa Betkowski, Olivia Graham and Kelsey Smither winds up in the neighborhood of 30 varsity seasons of practices, road trips and camaraderie (not even counting off-season workouts, practices and tons of other hockey leagues, camps and tournaments).

Who knew there was such a thing as a national high school field hockey poll? There is, by topofthecircle.com, and Lakeland’s No. 6 in the nation on that list.

Topofthecircle also says Smither, who’s already a U.S. youth national team veteran and will be playing for Old Dominion, the U.S. U19 and U.S. U21 teams next year, is five assists (counting two more Tuesday) from breaking the national record for a four-year high school career.

Lakeland faces Beach District champion First Colonial in the regional semifinals Thursday. The Beach District is always the strongest district in Virginia. Any school making the postseason from the Beach is automatically a state title favorite. First Colonial’s also in topofthecircle’s poll, meaning somewhere in the top 40 in the country.

The winner Thursday afternoon goes to states and the regional final. The losing side, while still probably one of the two best teams in the state, is done for the season.

I know 1 p.m. on a workday, with traffic to and from Virginia Beach, makes it impossible for many, maybe even some fans who’d love nothing more than to be at the game.

Even for a sports fan without Lakeland or First Colonial ties, or no knowledge of field hockey (a category I still mostly fall into), the intensity, athletic ability and action will be worth the drive and a $7 ticket.