It’s official. There will be at least one more pregame dance party inside Katelyn Rennyson’s black jeep with the fold-down top. And maybe, one last dash to Jersey Mike’s before hopping on the team bus.
But more importantly, No. 3 Westfield’s 2-0 win over No. 4 South County in the Virginia 6A North region field hockey semifinals extended the Bulldogs’ season by a minimum two games and one trip to Virginia Beach for the state tournament.
“Just to know that we have two more games to play, and they stretch out over a two-week span is awesome,” said Bulldogs senior Rachael Ulsh, who scored once. “But we can’t look ahead to the beach, we have to focus on the [regional] championship first.”
The Bulldogs (19-2) will travel to play Fairfax in the 6A North final on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Rebels (19-3) beat Herndon, 2-1, in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
Senior midfielder Molly O’Sullivan opened Westfield’s scoring with 9 minutes 35 seconds to play in the first half. She hung close to the Stallions’ net, biding her time before burying a cross from Katie Winesett.
“That’s my main job as a left forward, to always cover the back post area,” O’Sullivan said. “That’s where I was supposed to be.”
Tuesday marked the first time in recent memory that these two teams have met on a stage before the region final.
“We kinda liked this better, because we knew we could knock [South County] out, and [they] wouldn’t go to the beach with [us],” Ulsh said. “It got us even more pumped knowing that we could end their season.”
After the outcome went official, teary-eyed South County seniors Erica Smedberg, Sydney Southard, Isabel Josephs and Elizabeth Ireland collected themselves for a four-way hug.
“It was hard when I found out we’d have to play [Westfield] in the semifinals,” Southard said. “They’re our biggest rival. Every year it’s South County and Westfield [in the final].”
South County (18-3) handed Westfield its only loss to a local school on Aug. 31, but a lot has changed since then.
The Bulldogs made a major tweak to their lineup, flipping junior Emily McNamara to right forward from the midfield. McNamara responded by recording a team-high 19 assists.
Tuesday in Chantilly, the Bulldogs held South County to a single shot on goal and earned seven corners to the Stallions’ five.
“It was almost good that we lost to them in the beginning of the season, because it made us more fired up for this game,” Ulsh said.
Westfield won its first meeting with Fairfax, 2-0, on Sept. 17.
When the Bulldogs board the bus bound for Fairfax on Thursday, the dance party will come to screeching halt.
“Coach [Starr Karl] doesn’t let us listen to iPods. We’ll be talking about the game.”
●FAIRFAX 2, HERNDON 1: Junior Meg Robertson scored the go-ahead goal for the Rebels, breaking a 1-1 halftime deadlock.
After a tight contest in the first half, Fairfax settled into its game plan and commanded possession throughout the final 30 minutes.
“We played about 27 minutes of offense and probably three minutes of defense in the second half,” Fairfax Coach Amber Beaudoin said.
Junior Taylor Stone scored for Herndon (15-6).