Lady Cavs reach district final

Published 11:20 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lakeland senior forward Jillian Bates looks toward the Western Branch goal during Wednesday afternoon’s district tournament semifinal in Virginia Beach. The top-seeded Lady Cavaliers scored four goals in the second half to pull away from Western Branch and win 5-0. Lakeland, going for its 11th straight district tournament title, plays in the final against Grassfield Friday at 6 p.m. at the U.S. National Training Center.

VIRGINIA BEACH — Lakeland will play for its 11th straight Southeastern District Field Hockey Tournament championship Friday evening thanks to a 5-0 victory over Western Branch in the tourney semifinals at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center Wednesday.

The top-seeded Lady Cavaliers (13-4), already assured of a spot in the Eastern Region Tournament next week, allowed No. 4 Western Branch only one shot on goal.

Forward Summer Parker scored a hat trick and midfielder Alexis Albright tallied two goals and an assist.

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Despite dominating the possession, it took the Lady Cavs until a few minutes into the second half to turn the match in their favor on the scoreboard with four goals, two by Parker and Albright’s two, coming in a 16-minute span.

“Believe it or not, we’re still working on improving every game. We’re working on our counterattacking, moving the ball better, being quicker and sharper all the way around,” said Lakeland head coach Tara Worley.

Albright and Parker combined to give the Lady Cavaliers the lead in the ninth minute. Albright, already inside the WB arc, passed to Parker a stride inside the penalty stroke spot. Parker, without time or space for a big shot, pushed a rolling shot by her Lady Bruin marker and the goalie for the goal.

The Lady Bruins had one real scoring chance in the first 30 minutes. Freshman goalkeeper Erin Bradshaw had to make a sliding save on a close-range shot near the right post. Lakeland defended a Lady Bruin corner seconds later and cleared the threat.

Lakeland wound up with a 20-1 edge in penalty corners and a 33-2 margin in overall shots.

Western Branch’s defense held out through the rest of the half and kept the match within reach until a flurry of Lady Cavalier attacking following halftime.

Albright followed up a shot by Jillian Bates, quickly slotting the rebound into the cage for a 2-0 Lakeland lead in the 37th minute.

The Lady Cavaliers made one of the many corners pay off three minutes later. Jamee Albright raced on the dribble around to the right wing and sent a pass back toward the front of the WB goal. Kasey Smith kept the ball moving past the WB keeper. Parker finished the play with a goal from near the left post.

More constant pressure paid off with Smith assisting to Parker again for a 4-0 lead. Alexis Albright redirected Kristen Vick’s shot on goal, completing the Lakeland scoring with just over seven minutes left to play.

The Albright sisters and fellow midfielder Megan Smith kept the ball pinned in and around the Lady Bruin arc for long stretches. Even when Western Branch cleared the ball out, it was only momentary before the Lady Cavs threatened to score again.

“What we’re working on now is far more advanced than what we were working on at the beginning of the season. This team’s come a long way since the first game,” Worley said. “You’ve always got to improve. There’s always more to work on. There’s more we have to do to make it to states, which is always our goal.”

Finishing another perfect run through a district season is next up for the Lady Cavaliers. Lakeland meets No. 2 Grassfield in Friday’s final at 6 p.m.