Lakeland girls fall to Cox
Published 9:25 pm Wednesday, October 31, 2012
A tremendous season for Lakeland field hockey came to a heart-wrenching conclusion with a 3-2 double-overtime loss to Cox High School in the quarterfinals of the Eastern Region Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center.
As Lakeland head coach Tara Worley had predicted, it was an all-out battle.
“It’s what I expected in that regard, but I didn’t expect us to control the ball as much as we did and have as many opportunities as we did (and) to not finish them.”
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The Lady Cavaliers (17-2) had 17 shots on goal, while Cox had only four, and they also enjoyed an 11-4 lead in penalty corners.
With 6:15 remaining in the first half, the Lady Falcons got on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead into halftime.
Less than four minutes into the second half, the game was tied when Lakeland junior forward Kasey Smith scored after pressuring the Cox defense directly in front of its goal.
Cox was lethal when it had opportunities in the game, but the Lady Cavaliers held the ball on their opponents’ side of the field much of the time.
Earlier this season, Lakeland defeated Cox for the first time, when junior forward Summer Parker scored with four and a half minutes remaining. This time, Cox returned the favor, when senior back Jeannie Blackwood fired in a shot with 4:31 to go.
A timeout was called after the Cox goal, and Worley told her girls, “Leave it all on the field!”
Lakeland’s 2011 season came to a close in a regional semi-final that Cox dominated and won 2-1. Things were not so simple this year.
In the final minutes, the ball spent some time in the middle of the field, but then the Lady Cavaliers once again put pressure on Cox and pushed the ball toward the Lady Falcons’ goal area.
Lakeland got a penalty corner with just under a minute to play, and moments later Kasey Smith got the ball near the top of the circle. She took a big swing that was quickly followed by the smack of the ball as it hit the back of the goal, and the Lady Cavaliers along with their faithful fans erupted with 38.5 seconds remaining.
“We were nervous, but we knew that we could do it, and we knew that it only took about five seconds to score,” team captain and junior midfielder Alexis Albright said.
“I’m proud of the team that in those final four minutes, I asked them to lay it out there, the four minutes of regulation, and they did,” Worley said.
A 15-minute, sudden death overtime period followed, during which the field of players shrank by rule from 11 per side to seven per side, including the goalies. The first period was scoreless and was followed by a second 15-minute overtime.
Three and a half minutes into the second overtime, Smith got another shot off from the top of the circle, but it missed.
With about 9:30 remaining, Alexis Albright passed to Parker, who was right in front of Cox’s goal. Parker lifted the ball for a shot that went over the goal and out of bounds.
Thirty seconds later, Lady Falcons’ junior midfielder Maddy Humphrey got loose on a breakaway and put in the winning goal.
“There were some moments there where, as always, you’re always wanting to push them more, push them harder,” Worley said. “We never gave up.”
“We’re a little upset about how it ended, but we were really glad that we played really tough, and we thought we gave it our all,” Albright said.
Dr. Thomas Whitley, Lakeland’s principal, was in attendance at the game to show his support.
“They left it all out on the field,” he said. “They gave 200 percent, and, hey, they have nothing to hang their heads about. I’m very proud of them, and we’ll be back next year.”