Leesburg, Va. — To host a region championship in your program’s first year is impressive; to win one is unheard of. Well, the Heritage High School field hockey team scratched their name into the record book, defeating Fauquier High School, 2-1, in the VHSL 4A West region championship on November 3 in Leesburg in the in the Pride field hockey team’s opening season.
“We’ve been trying to get into the schools for so long, and now that we’re finally here, it’s amazing that we have gotten so far,” Heritage sophomore midfielder Josie Rossbach said. “These schools have had field hockey for a really, really long time so beating them is a really good feeling.”
The good feeling really sank in at the end of overtime as Rossbach – the Conference 21A/Conference 21B player of the year – netted a goal off a broken corner as time expired. Or so the Pride thought.
After the Heritage student section stormed the field in celebration, Fauquier head coach Brooke Settle approached the referee, spoke with her for a few minutes, and then announced to her team that the game was not over.
Then the referee approached Heritage head coach Derek Ryan and explained that she had inadvertently blown the whistle before the goal, so even after awarding the Pride the goal and ending the game, she was deciding to reopen the game, call off the goal and have Heritage replay the corner.
“It was so frustrating. We thought we had done it. We thought our hard work had paid off,” Rossbach said. “Then they waved the goal off and made us retry. But we knew that since we did it once, we could do it again.”
It didn’t take long for the Pride’s hard work to actually pay off. Fauquier broke the untimed replay corner but Heritage earned another penalty. Then another.
“I told the girls to go back and finish what they had done all night,” Ryan said. “Our girls had showed me in the half that we could score on a corner, then we scored on another corner, so I asked them to show me one last time.”
Then finally on their third corner after the initial celebration, Heritage sophomore forward Sydney Krieger corralled a rebound off the Falcon goalkeeper and flicked the ball into the net to give her team the deciding goal.
“We just worked through our progression. We ran three different plays, and they were all effective: they all led to shots on goal,” Ryan said. “We wanted to play it in and hope for the rebound. That’s exactly what we did.”
Trailing one goal at the start of the second half, Rossbach finally saw the Pride’s offensive domination pay off as she scored less than three minutes into the final frame.
“They had a really mature goalie,” Ryan said. “She was able to absorb shot after shot. That was the difference.”
A Heritage-dominated first half came to an abrupt halt when the Falcons finally broke past midfield and into the Pride circle with just over a minute left in the half to earn their first penalty corner of the game. Fauquier junior Caroline Diehl took advantage of the corner finding the back of the net to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead at the half.
Diehl’s goal, however, didn’t prove to be enough as Fauquier only entered the Heritage circle a handful of times on the night. On all but the solo first half goal, Heritage freshman goalkeeper Gabi Gray halted the Falcons’ attack.
“It’s so great to be a part of this team. Everyone is working so hard,” Gray said. “Just that fact that I get to help a little bit is so great.”
Both the Pride and the Falcons will advance to the VHSL 4A state semifinals in Virginia Beach.
“The excitement level is so high. We’re all so pumped,” Rossbach said. “It’s all we can talk about. I can’t believe it’s happening.”
On November 11, the VHSL 4A West champion Heritage will play the VHSL 4A East runner up Grafton at 12 p.m. at the Regional Training Center in Virginia Beach; while the VHSL 4A West runner up Fauquier takes on the daunting VHSL 4A East champion Great Bridge.
“I’ve been waiting ten years for this ever since I started coaching high school club hockey. It’s the end of a long battle, a long waiting game,” Ryan said. “We set our team goal to make it to the state tournament. We’ve achieved that goal. Now, everything is a bonus.”
1H 1:00 F Caroline Diehl
2H 27:09 H Josie Rossbach
OT 0:00 H Josie Rossbach
OT 0:00 H Sydney Krieger