Lady Cavs win regionals
Published 9:43 pm Friday, November 5, 2010
VIRGINIA BEACH — Lakeland’s field hockey team made school history Friday by winning its first Eastern Region championship with a 4-1 victory over Western Branch.
Lady Cavalier senior midfielder Kelsey Smither made nationwide field hockey history by becoming the national record-holder for assists in a four-year high school career. Smither assisted on all three of Kendell Combs’ goals to bring her career total to 117 assists.
The way Smither sees it, though, her individual record is another team accomplishment.
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“People were reminding me of it every once in a while, of all the numbers, but I didn’t want to pay any attention to that,” Smither said. “It’s not really what’s important. Getting better, supporting the team and playing well as a team, that’s what’s important.”
The final of the Eastern Region Tournament already contained a bit of history before the opening whistle, as it was the first time the showdown featured two Southeastern District schools.
Lakeland defeated Beach District champion First Colonial and the Lady Bruins beat Beach runner-up Princess Anne in the semis.
The Lady Cavaliers started quick and in a way that’s been familiar throughout their postseason so far.
Lakeland’s attack blitzed into the Western Branch arc and forced a penalty corner 0:25 into the match. Combs, who started the set play, received the ball back after three quick Lady Cavalier passes around the arc. Combs passed from the endline to Smither a few yards from goal. Smither pushed a shot into the cage for a 1-0 Lakeland lead 60 seconds in.
Western Branch took some of the action into the Lakeland half and even around the Lady Cavalier circle through the next 10 minutes.
None of the pressure amounted to a shot on goal, and Lakeland doubled its lead in the 16th minute with another strike from a corner.
With a simple play, Combs passing to Smither at the top of the arc, and Smither passing back to Combs as she set up on the left wing, Combs blasted a shot into the cage for her 100th career goal as a Lady Cavalier.
Lakeland’s next goal was the record-breaker for Smither. Taking a restart from the dotted line above the top of the Lady Bruin arc, Smither passed into the center of the circle for Combs. Combs turned and fired another drive for the goal and a 3-0 Lakeland lead with 3:29 before halftime.
“I had no idea about the record until topofthecircle posted it,” Lakeland head coach Tara Worley said, referring to a website that focuses on the women’s sports world.
“The way Kelsey creates plays, it makes other teams bring two, three or more players to try and stop her. She draws so much attention, then she sees the field so well and passes so well,” Worley said.
“She never takes an unnecessary shot. Of course, she’ll shoot when it’s there and that makes her tough to defend. She can beat you passing as well as shooting,” Worley said.
It was Smither-to-Combs one more time in the second half. Kristin Vick started the rush, 80 yards from goal, with a steal and outlet pass to Smither.
Smither raced ahead before sending a pass to Combs sprinting into the Lady Bruin circle. Combs cut the ball back to the center of the circle before driving a big shot into the goal.
“If I was going to have (a record for goals or the record for assists) I want to have it for assists,” Smither said.
“I want to share the glory with all my teammates because they work just as hard and deserve it too. If I can share the experience with them, it makes it even more awesome,” Smither said.
With the regional championship, the Lady Cavaliers will host their quarterfinal match in the VHSL Group AAA State Tournament, starting Tuesday.
“Ultimately, this (the region championship) was the next stop in the journey of Lakeland field hockey,” Worley said. “It’s one thing we hadn’t done yet and it’s another goal reached.”