Tabb eliminates Lady Warriors

Published 9:57 pm Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Tabb High School Lady Tigers ended Nansemond River’s field hockey season Tuesday by dealing the Lady Warriors a 7-1 loss in the Region 4A South semifinals in Yorktown, a year after doing the same thing at the same point in the playoffs via a 6-1 final score.

The 2013 meeting and Tabb’s 15-0 rout of Churchland High School in this year’s quarterfinals meant the Lady Warriors had an idea of what to expect from Tabb.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game going into it,” NR coach Ali Mowry said. “I don’t think they graduated many seniors.”

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But she was pleased with the confidence her players had going into the game, believing in themselves and that they could win, rather than being intimidated by the opponent and the stage.

“This is our year; we’re going to states,” junior Ashley Hiltabrand said after her team’s quarterfinal victory on Monday. A win against Tabb would have secured a state berth, and remembering the Lady Tigers from 2013, she added, “We’re coming for them.”

This kind of confidence in the face of big games will be a key to the Lady Warriors’ future success, and Mowry said it is “something that you can’t really teach as a coach.”

What gave Tabb the decisive edge on Tuesday was its impressive ball handling.

“Their offense was tremendous, connecting passes,” Mowry said, later adding, “They had a lot of penalty corners, and they had a lot of shots on goal.”

Nansemond River had only a few offensive opportunities and scored in the first half off a penalty corner. Junior Claire Janek put the ball in with an assist from junior Jaclyn Mounie.

The score was only 3-1 at halftime before the Lady Tigers pulled away in the second half.

Noting a special Nansemond River standout, Mowry said she has been impressed throughout the postseason with Ashley Hiltabrand.

“We moved her into the backfield to kind of solidify things and step in when people were injured,” the coach said, after she kept Hiltabrand in the back on Tuesday. “I thought she did a really good job of communicating and taking control back there.”

The Lady Warriors finished the 2014 season with a 14-6 overall record.

“I feel like our record truly reflects our season,” Mowry said. “I didn’t schedule any easy teams for them, and some of the games that we would consider an easy win are conference games, and they’re given to us.”

Last year, the Lady Warriors broke ground with their first regional playoff berth in more than 10 years.

While this year ended again with a loss in the regional semifinals, Nansemond River exits this season with something it did not have last year — an Ironclad Conference tournament championship.

“They keep taking it a step further each year,” Mowry said.