Six Lady Cavs ready to set college plans

Published 8:39 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Full scholarship: Lakeland senior Megan Johnson has accepted a full, joint athletic and academic scholarship to play field hockey at Liberty University. Johnson was a four-year starter for the Lady Cavaliers. Lakeland won its first state championship this past fall, winning the Group AAA state title with a 24-0 record.

Six Lakeland field hockey seniors will make their collegiate plans official next week and for the next four falls, wherever a field hockey fan looks around Virginia, they will very likely find one or more Lady Cavaliers.

Three Lady Cavaliers from this season’s VHSL (Virginia High School League) Group AAA state championship and perfect 24-0 team have been committed to scholarship offers from Virginia universities and conference rivals for awhile.

Forward Kendell Combs and goalkeeper Marissa Betkowski will continue as teammates at Virginia Commonwealth.

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Combs was a prolific goal-scorer from her freshman year on. She scored 44 goals and notched 29 assists this past season, finishing with 109 career goals. That mark places her sixth in the nation all-time in goals in a high school career.

Betkowski totaled 19 shutouts this season in Lakeland’s state championship run. Betkowski is the co-owner of the VHSL state record for shutouts in a season. Her shutout total for her four varsity seasons puts her No. 2 on the all-time national record list.

The Lady Cavaliers won their eight postseason matches, through the Southeastern District, Eastern Region and VHSL State Tournament, by a combined score of 42-2.

Midfielder Kelsey Smither is leaving the Lady Cavalier program and following her older sister, Katelyn, to Old Dominion.

Smither set the all-time national high school record for assists in a four-year high school career with 124 assists. She was the state Player of the Year and a first-team All-American by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association this season to top numerous state, regional and district honors throughout the last four years.

Katelyn Smither starred for Lakeland and head coach Tara Worley before being a four-year starter for the Lady Monarchs from 2005-09. She’s currently on the U.S. National Developmental Team, a team one step away from the full national team, the team that plays in the Olympics, the World Cup and other major international events.

Kelsey Smither was on the U.S. U17 team this past year. She’s made the U19 and U21 national teams for 2011.

Taylor Young, Jennifer Hedrick and Megan Johnson will also make their college commitments and future field hockey plans official at Lakeland on Wednesday.

Young, a four-year midfielder for the Lady Cavaliers, has committed to Christopher Newport.

Hedrick, a midfielder, but also one of Lakeland’s top scorers each of the last two seasons, has accepted a scholarship to play at Radford.

Hedrick will join former Lady Cavalier Lynsey Daughtrey on the Lady Highlander team. Daughtrey has been a starting defender the last three RU seasons.

Johnson, a midfielder/defender throughout the last four years, is accepting a joint athletic and academic scholarship from Liberty, where she’ll be part of the university’s inaugural field hockey team at the NCAA Division I level.

Liberty added women’s swimming and lacrosse in 2010. Field hockey will be an independent program, not in a conference, for 2011 and has plans to join the NorPac Conference in 2012.

Radford is one of the eight teams currently in the NorPac, which has two Virginia schools, two North Carolina schools, three California schools and one Oregon school, so Johnson and Hedrick will become rivals as Betkowski and Combs at VCU will against Smither and ODU in the Colonial.

Johnson and Hedrick each sport 4.4 GPAs and according to Lakeland teacher Daniel Waller during Lakeland’s post-state championship celebration at the school a few days after the final 3-0 win over Mountain View, the eight Lady Cavalier seniors average a 3.9 GPA.

“If a group puts in the time, commitment and work this is a great example of what can happen,” Worley said during the championship ceremony in November.