Sunday, February 25, 2024

Field Hockey Roundup: Gore’s Penalty Stroke Lifts Tabb to Conference Championship Over York

Tabb took home the Conference 27 championship after beating York 1-0. (Ty Hodges/WYDaily)
Tabb took home the Conference 27 championship after beating York 1-0. (Ty Hodges/WYDaily)

After losing 15 players from last year’s state championship team, Tabb Coach Wendy Wilson was not quite sure what to expect from her new roster.

On Thursday, the Tigers showed Wilson they have the grit to make another postseason run after edging York 1-0 at home during the Conference 27 championship game at Bailey Field.

The opening 30 minutes were largely controlled by Tabb with moments of opportunity for York.

Roughly five minutes into the game, Tabb had a golden opportunity to take an early lead as a penalty stroke was called in the circle. Taylor Jones stepped to the penalty spot, but could not convert the attempt as the game remained scoreless.

Although Tabb dominated possession and routinely had the ball deep in York territory, the Tigers were repelled by the Falcons defense, which used its speed to create counterattack opportunities. It was a far cry from York’s first game against Tabb this season that resulted in a 5-0 loss.

Both teams were scoreless at halftime with the stat sheet nearly even. The Tigers led York in shots on goal 5-3, but each team attempted four penalty corners and were forced to make saves to keep the shutout intact.

“I feel like we gave it 110 percent and did not give up on ourselves,” York Coach Taylor Janus said. “We kept staying strong and stayed man-to-man, and that worked in our favor.”

The second half was more of the same as Tabb shut down potential breakaway opportunities by the Falcons and retained possession in the attacking third of the field. York’s defense handled the pressure well, keeping Tabb from finding the back of the cage despite facing three penalty corner attempts in a span of less than two minutes midway through the second half.

With just over 15 minutes left in the game, Tabb was given a chance at redemption as a steal in the defensive end gave way to a breakaway by Alexis Gore.

York midfielder Courtney Ray jostled with Gore through the midfield and eventually into the York circle. Ray attempted to dislodge the ball from behind Gore in the circle in a desperate attempt to prevent a shot on goal, but the head official deemed the attempt a foul that resulted in a penalty stroke for the Tigers.

Gore stepped to the penalty spot and calmly slotted the ball into the very left edge of the cage before being swarmed by her celebrating teammates. With exactly 15 minutes left on the clock, Tabb finally had the go-ahead goal and a 1-0 lead over York.

York gave the Tigers plenty to worry about over the last 5:30 of the game, as York earned three penalty corners that had the potential to tie the game. Perhaps York’s best chance to tie the game came with 4:28 left when a penalty corner opened up Bentley Zabicki for an open shot from the perimeter of the circle. Zabicki delivered a hard sweeping shot, but it deflected off the foot of a teammate and gave the ball back to Tabb.

As the buzzer sounded, Tabb’s players huddled together in what resembled a miniature mosh pit near the 20-yard line to celebrate their latest conference championship.

“I think this [championship] really speaks volumes. I don’t know of any other team in the area or even the state who lost 15 girls from last season. That’s basically a whole team,” Wilson said. “To start over from new … I just think their growth throughout the season has shown. They worked hard and they earned this.”

Tabb (15-1) and York (10-5) will both advance to the Group 4A West tournament that begins Monday. York will play the champion of the hybrid Conference 33/41/43 tournament, while Tabb will take on the runner-up.

Tabb 1, York 0

Goals: Tabb (Alexis Gore)


Grafton Blanks Smithfield to Earn Conference 18 Title

A pair of goals by Sydnie Swartwood helped Grafton cruise past Smithfield 3-0 at home during Thursday’s Conference 18 championship game.

Grafton’s defense stood out once again as the Clippers posted their seventh consecutive shutout on the season. While Grafton shut down the Packers on defense, the offense also found holes in the Smithfield defense.

Swartwood opened the game’s scoring 10 minutes into the contest, finding the back of the net unassisted to put Grafton on top 1-0, which would carry into halftime.

With about 19 minutes left in the second half, Grace Hoepfner played a ball into Emma Kirschke, who sneaked the ball past the Smithfield goalkeeper for the second goal.

The Clippers iced the game when, with 23 seconds left, Swartwood weaved through the Smithfield defense 60 yards on a breakaway. Swartwood reached the top of the Smithfield circle, wound up a reverse sweep and hammered the ball into the lower-right corner of the net for the game’s final goal.

Grafton (12-6) will now advance to the Group 4A East tournament that begins Monday. The Clippers will open play at home against Conference 17 runners-up Deep Creek.

Grafton 3, Smithfield 0

Goals: Grafton (Sydnie Swartwood 2, Emma Kirschke)
Assists: Grafton (Grace Hoepfner)


Bruton Eliminated by Northampton in Double OT

Bruton suffered a tough season-ending 2-1 loss in double overtime at home against Northampton on Thursday in the hybrid Conference 33/41/43 tournament semifinal round.

The game was even through the first half with neither team able to find a clear advantage over the other. The game remained scoreless at halftime.

Northampton and Bruton traded goals in the second half, the first coming from Bruton’s Jessica Robinson off an assist from Brianna Smith with 24 minutes left in the half.

Less than a minute later, Northampton’s McKenzie Widgeon responded with an unassisted goal to send the game into overtime.

Northampton got the better of Bruton (4-10) in the extra period as Erica Head scored an unassisted game-winning goal to end Bruton’s season one game shy of advancing to the Group 4A West tournament.

Northampton 2, Bruton 1

Goals: Northampton (McKenzie Widgeon, Erica Head), Bruton (Jessica Robinson)
Assists: Bruton (Brianna Smith)


Poquoson Edges Warhill in Conference 25 Championship

Warhill surrendered a late goal during a tough 1-0 loss at Poquoson during Thursday’s Conference 25 championship game.

After a scoreless first half and 20 minutes of scoreless play in the second half, Poquoson finally broke through the Warhill defense as Maggie Chiapazzi scored off an assist from Emily Dewell with 10 minutes left to play.

The Lions could not muster a response before the clock expired, narrowly missing out on the conference championship.

Warhill (11-5) will still advance to the Group 4A West tournament where the Lions will visit Conference 22 champions Western Albemarle on Monday.

Poquoson 1, Warhill 0

Goals: Poquoson (Maggie Chiapazzi)
Assists: Poquoson (Emily Dewell)


Norfolk Collegiate Hands HRA Late Loss

Hampton Roads Academy allowed Norfolk Collegiate to score a game-winning goal with 11 seconds left in sudden-death overtime Thursday.

The late goal led Norfolk Collegiate to a 2-1 win on the road against the Navigators.

While being forced to play more defense, HRA held level with Norfolk Collegiate through 60 minutes of play in regulation thanks to a goal from Shea Davis.

After nearly surviving the sudden-death overtime period, Norfolk Collegiate’s Lizzie Howlett found the back of the net for the late game-winner.

HRA (2-8) ends its regular season in disappointing fashion and will prepare for play in Tuesday’s Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools tournament.

Norfolk Collegiate 2, Hampton Roads Academy 1

Goals: Norfolk Collegiate (Logan White, Lizzie Howlett), HRA (Shea Davis)

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