Purcellville, Va. — After playing from behind in their VHSL Region 4D semifinal earlier in the week, the Loudoun Valley High School field hockey team knew they didn’t want to get down against Loudoun County in the region championship game.
“Loudoun County is such a good team, so we didn’t know what to expect coming into this game,” Loudoun Valley junior forward Addie Acham said. “We just wanted to come in with a lot of intensity.”
Knowing the Captains could flip the momentum at any moment, the Vikings scored early then added to that lead twice in the first half to create some cushion and eventually repeat as the VHSL Region 4D champion, 3-1, on November 2 in Purcellville.
“We just want to take it one game at a time, so this one was all in the moment,” Loudoun Valley head coach Melissa Ferrara said. “I don’t think being here in the past really prepares you, because it’s always a different game, a different vibe, different kids, so this was a really special win.”
Having trailed at the half of their region semifinal, the Viking wanted to play from ahead in the region championship, and thus started firing off shots early and often.
Loudoun Valley junior midfielder Katie Clarke had the first scoring opportunity midway through the first quarter, which was blocked by Loudoun County senior goalie Ava Bendekovic. The ball, however, was not cleared as Loudoun Valley sophomore forward Maddie Barnes collected the rebound and scored to put the Vikings up 1-0.
After defending a pair of Loudoun County corners, the Vikings earned a corner of their own late in the first quarter, where Barnes sent a shot towards the goal. Bendekovic again blocked it, but the Vikings were once again ready to clean up the rebound as Acham controlled the loose ball and found the net.
“We really focused on staying in the play even after the initial shot, especially on corners,” Acham said. “Maddie and I always have pads and posts, and we were able to tip a couple in tonight.”
With a 2-0 lead, the Vikings continued to attack early in the second quarter, when Acham flicked in a reverse to extend the Loudoun Valley lead to 3-0.
“We kept playing like it was 0-0, because the momentum can shift in a second, and a team like that will come back,” Ferrara said. “We just wanted to keep the intensity high the whole game.”
After Acham’s second goal of the night, the Vikings tried time and time again to find their fourth goal, but the Captains wouldn’t give in, defending four straight corners to end the first half.
Midway through the third quarter, the Captains’ perseverance paid off as junior midfielder Cece Tomaszewski scored to cut the Loudoun Valley lead to 3-1.
“They’re talented. They have a lot of power and a lot of skill. Besides Independence, they’re definitely the toughest team we’ve faced so far this season,” Ferrara said. “We just had to play our game, because we knew they were going to play hard and come to win.”
After allowing the goal, the Vikings buckled down and kept the Captains off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game, earning their second region title in as many years, 3-1.
With the win, the Vikings will host VHSL Region 4C runner-up Chancellor on November 7 in Purcellville. The Captains will travel to Region 4C champion Courtland on the same night.
“It feels good to play at home and to have the support of our families and fans and just the feel of Purcellville,” Ferrara said. “The girls worked really hard to get here and to get to host, so it’s a great feeling, a really great feeling.”
|1Q||8:39||Loudoun Valley||Maddie Barnes||1-0|
|1Q||3:17||Loudoun Valley||Addie Acham||2-0|
|2Q||13:18||Loudoun Valley||Addie Acham||3-0|
|3Q||7:20||Loudoun County||Cece Tomaszewski||3-1|