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Virginia AAA field hockey: South County tops Westfield to win Northern Region title

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When South County senior Caroline Karwel scored off a penalty stroke to give her team a three-goal lead over Westfield in the Virginia AAA Northern Region field hockey championship, a voice from her team’s rooting section shouted, “Here’s $100, Caroline!”

Financial incentives or not, the Stallions were feeling like a million bucks Wednesday night at Washington-Lee in Arlington, with a commanding cushion against a team that had shut them out twice this season.

South County surged to a 4-1 victory, the most lopsided region final result since 2003, to nab its second region title in three years.

By reaching the region final, both teams qualified for the state quarterfinals. South County (18-5) will host the Central Region runner-up Tuesday and Westfield (19-3) will play at the Central Region champion.

Maggie Walker and Hanover will meet in the Central championship game Thursday night.

“We didn’t expect to have four goals against a team like them,” said South County junior forward Alexis Schramm, who assisted the second goal on a nifty crossing pass and scored the fourth. “It was really surprising, actually.”

Junior Stephanie Halsted scored the first goal off a penalty corner less than six minutes into the game. Several minutes later, senior Meredith Bradsher scored off the cross from Schramm.

Westfield, which won the region in 2006 and reached the final in 2008, had beaten South County in seven of the teams’ eight previous meetings, including by 1-0 and 3-0 scores this season, and had allowed only 10 goals in 20 games.

Despite that history, the Stallions were undeterred.

“I think we came out confident because we already knew we were going to states,” South County senior goalie Kendall Clifton said. “Just because we’re the underdogs, I think that Westfield had a lot of confidence and thought that it would be an easy win for them.”

Westfield had 12 penalty corners, twice as many as South County, so the opportunities were there. And the Bulldogs had scored three second-half goals the last time the teams met, which is why Stallions Coach Leah Conte wanted her team to play as if the game were scoreless Wednesday night, even when it was ahead by multiple goals.

“Our forwards didn’t finish,” Westfield Coach Starr Karl said. “I thought our [midfielders] in the first half played really well and got the ball up there, but we didn’t do anything when we got up there. We had too many fouls. When we should have had our stick on the ball, we had our legs on the ball.”

The teams’ three-goal differential Wednesday night marked the most lopsided region final since W.T. Woodson beat Annandale, 3-0, in 2003.

The state quarterfinals are Tuesday. The semifinals are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Nov. 11 at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center in Virginia Beach. The championship is at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 12.

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