Lady Cavs advance with ease

Published 10:56 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lakeland back Megan Johnson clears the ball away from the Lady Cavalier arc in the first half of Tuesday’s VHSL State Tournament match in Virginia Beach. Lakeland beat McLean 5-0 to go to Friday’s semifinal.

VIRGINIA BEACH – McLean High, runners-up of the Northern Region, was one of two field hockey teams to force Lakeland into a one-goal match during the regular season, with a 1-0 Lakeland win coming back in August at a tourney at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center.

With more on the line at the same site Tuesday afternoon, Lakeland (21-0) advanced through the quarterfinals of the VHSL Group AAA State Tournament in much easier fashion, a 5-0 victory over McLean.

Lakeland led 2-0 and had effectively decided the match less than 20 minutes into this contest with the Highlanders.

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Deflections, rebounds and the simple volume of attacking and shots on goal carried the Lady Cavaliers into the final four. The opening goal, barely over five minutes in, set the tone.

On a corner, Kelsey Smither blasted the first shot on goal, forcing a save and a long rebound. Taylor Young shot from the left wing, forcing another rebound. Kendell Combs, coming in from putting the corner in play, pushed the loose ball in from a couple yards out for a 1-0 Lady Cavalier lead.

Lakeland went on to a 32-2 advantage in total shots and a 21-1 margin in shots on goal, so the single goal would’ve likely been good enough as it was three months ago.

McLean forced some of the early action into the Lakeland half of the field.

“We had to relax a little. We were tight when we started maybe,” said Lakeland head coach Tara Worley. “Once we got the (first) goal, we relaxed and gained more and more control of the game.”

It’s been a theme throughout the Lady Cavalier postseason run. The first few minutes might give an opponent one or two brief openings, but once Lakeland’s attack finds success, the Lady Cavaliers pile it on and completely tilt the field from there.

Lakeland’s second goal wasn’t stylish, as Smither’s dribbling created a scrum at the top of the McLean circle. Smither sent the ball toward the right post where Combs swept it toward goal and Summer Parker deflected it past the goalkeeper, making it 2-0 in the 19th minute.

Lakeland finished the half with another corner play leading to a goal. Combs passed to the top of the arc, for Megan Johnson setting up a shot by Smither. Jamee Albright, near the right post, tipped the hard shot up and over everyone into the McLean goal.

The third Lady Cavalier goal came a couple minutes after Smither received a green card for reacting after a McLean foul on her as she was dribbling through midfield.

“Actually, that led to our best stretch of the game, so good, go ahead and make Kelsey frustrated,” Worley said.

Smither drew, as in practically every game, two and three defenders all day. Some calls went in Smither’s favor, some went against Smither and some trips and clips drew no whistle.

“Anyone who scouts our team knows they’ll have to stop Kelsey,” Worley said. “She’s so fast, sometimes all that’s left to try and stop her is to hack her. I’m glad she’s on our team and I don’t have to figure out how to defend her.”

Lakeland tacked on two more goals, 0:48 apart, late in the second half.

Combs followed her own rebound and flipped a shot over the laid-out goalie for her second goal of the game.

Parker slammed a shot in from point-blank range, following up a shot by Combs, for her second goal and the 5-0 final.

In Falmouth Tuesday, Northwest Region champion Stafford (23-0) beat Central runner-up Cosby 5-0. Stafford, No. 2 in this week’s national poll, meets No. 5 Lakeland in the state semifinals Friday at 1 p.m. at the National Training Center.