Purcellville, Va. — After claiming the VHSL Region 4D title in 2022, the Loudoun Valley High School field hockey team knew they’d have a target on their backs in 2023. But having graduated seven seniors following that championship, the Vikings weren’t entirely sure how their 2023 campaign would go.
To add to the challenge of repeating, the Vikings had to get through rival Woodgrove High School in an always tough region semifinal.
Despite falling into an early one-goal deficit, the Vikings rallied in the second half to overcome the Wolverines, 2-1, in a VHSL Region 4D semifinal on October 30 in Purcellville.
“There was a lot of pressure on us after winning the region championship last year,” Loudoun Valley sophomore midfielder Hope Losty said. “The bond our team created over the season really helped us throughout the season and especially tonight. When we got down, we started getting frustrated, but we had a conversation and knew we just had to play our game.”
Loudoun Valley had a few chances early, earning a corner within the first three minutes of the game, which was successfully cleared by Woodgrove.
Then, late in the first quarter, Losty made an entry pass to junior forward Addie Acham, who took a shot but missed wide left.
Following the miss, the Wolverines turned the field allowing senior midfielder Teagan Lowery to find an opening through a lane of Vikings’ defenders and score to put Woodgrove up 1-0 late in the first quarter.
“They came out strong, and they came out hungry; they were ready to play,” Loudoun Valley head coach Melissa Ferrara said. “We just needed to calm down. We know how to play hockey. We needed to count on each other; it’s a team sport. We just needed to take it down a notch and play our game.”
Less than a minute after Woodgrove took the lead, the Vikings had a chance to tie things up when freshman forward Scarlett Lane got the ball in front of the net, but, again, the shot attempt missed wide.
Trailing 1-0, the Vikings started to press. Early in the second quarter, Loudoun Valley junior midfielder Katie Clarke fired a shot on goal which was saved by Woodgrove junior goalie Kayla Forester. Three minutes later, Loudoun Valley earned a corner, which proved unfruitful. Another minute later and the Vikings failed to convert on yet another corner.
Before the first half ended, the Vikings fired off five more legitimate shots on goal, which either missed wide or were knocked away by Forester.
Loudoun Valley entered the second half with a lot of intensity, earning a corner within the first 20 seconds of the third quarter. Despite resetting for three corners in the first 72 seconds of the second half, the Vikings still trailed 1-0.
But five minutes into the second half, Loudoun Valley finally broke through as Losty dribbled the ball up the right side and sent a pass into the circle where Lane collected it and scored to even the game up at 1-1.
“Scarlett and I have played together for a long time,” Losty said. “When I take the ball up the sidelines, I know she’ll be in the circle, so I just sent a pass in, knowing she would be there, and hoping she’d be able to put it in the net.”
Then, less than 90 seconds later, the Vikings had a similar opportunity as Losty sent another pass into the circle, which slipped past Lane and the Woodgrove defense and into the goal.
“I was trying to do the same thing, so it was actually more of a pass into the circle,” Losty said. “The defender and goalie both let the ball go like it was going out, but I still didn’t think they would count it because I didn’t even realize I was in the circle. Then I looked down and realized the blue line was a foot behind me and that I had just scored.”
That goal would prove decisive as the Vikings erased a first-half deficit to defeat their rival Wolverines, 2-1, and advance to the VHSL Region 4D championship. With the win, Loudoun Valley also punched its ticket back to the VHSL Class 4 State tournament.
“We just have to block out the noise and focus on what we can control. We’re going to go back to the fundamentals and tighten up some things,” Ferrara said. “It’s all a mental thing at this point; we know how to play hockey, so now it’s about staying composed, staying focused, and staying together.”
|3Q||10:25||Loudoun Valley||Scarlett Lane||1-1|
|3Q||8:58||Loudoun Valley||Hope Losty||2-1|