Westfield field hockey knocks off Severna Park

September 21, 2013

Katie Winesett and Westfield’s fifth-ranked field hockey team desperately wanted to shrug off the crab cake complex. After a 1-0 win over No. 2 Severna Park, the Bulldogs believe they’ve done it.

“Maryland’s thought to be one of the best states at field hockey, and the fact that we just beat their best team means that Virginia’s up there too,” Winesett said. “They should look at us differently from now on.”

At the very least, the Falcons (6-1) are taking notice.

“They [Bulldogs] have a different dynamic when they play,” said Severna Park senior back Maeve Doherty, a Columbia recruit. “They play a little bit more of the small game. It was definitely good to see that, because it improves our game.”

Winesett’s goal came off a corner — one of 11 that Westfield earned Saturday.

During a stretch in the second half, the Bulldogs (8-2) lined up four corners in less than a minute’s span.

“Really, we just go for their feet if we don’t have a shot,” Winesett said, “and that’s how we get so many corners in a row.”

That straightforward design led to the game’s only goal. Winesett lined up near the right side of the circle, calmed the initial feed and lifted an aerial over the canopy of Severna Park’s oncoming flyers.

The Bulldogs carried the 1-0 lead into halftime, and it proved to be a comfortable advantage.

Severna Park, despite earning two corners, didn’t manage a shot on goal.

Westfield’s defensive backfield — anchored by senior Rachael Ulsh — disrupted the Falcons’ passing lanes all game long.

“It’s about being first to the ball,” Ulsh said. “They’ll anticipate it and try to receive it slowly. If we just step to it, they have no chance to get it.”

Ulsh said Saturday’s game could foreshadow the brand of field hockey the Bulldogs will see in regionals. But the difference went beyond style of play.

“We came out knowing that they’d be a skilled team, but we played with our heart,” she said.

Fairfax schools need all the heart they can muster to remain competitive region-wide, since field hockey — along with all sports — isn’t offered at the middle school level.

“A lot of times, we get kids starting the game fresh in ninth grade,” Bulldogs Coach Starr Karl said. “And I know they [Severna Park] don’t have that” situation.

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