When West Potomac's Carol Horton watched 13 of her field hockey players graduate after last season she didn't know how she would compensate for them.
The 20-year coach knew that strong jayvee players would make for a good team and a winning season, but she had no idea they would end up playing in the Virginia AAA state finals.
The Wolverines' (13-4) loss to Kempsville in that game Tuesday did not defeat their spirit, as they played their best game of the season, forcing the Chiefs into overtime before falling, 2-1.
Rachel Burke's goal with nine minutes left in the game tied the score at one for West Potomac. The Wolverines shutdown a strong Kempsville offense to force the tie. A shot by Alisa Crowder, set up by a penalty corner, got past the Wolverines' goalkeeper Nicky Grey at 7:22 into the overtime to put Kempsville ahead. The Chiefs maintained control throughout the last three minutes to win it.
"All the goals were good goals," Horton said. "We played like we hadn't played all year. I regret that we didn't win, but we played like we could have won."
In the semifinal game West Potomac defeated Midlothian in penalty strokes, 1-0. After scoreless regulation and overtime periods Rachel Burke scored on the last of the Wolverines' five penalty stroke attempts to help her team advance to the final. It was the fourth consecutive game that West Potomac won on strokes, including the three rounds of Northern Region Tournament.
The victory came after a controversial call on Midlothian's final stroke that disallowed the shot. The Trojans' Beth Alexander scored on that attempt but she was not wearing a mandatory protective piece. Horton alerted the officials who then called the goal back.
An earlier stroke was also recalled when Midlothian's Laura Rasmussen shot past goalkeeper Grey before the whistle was blown.
Marjorie Brooks, Midlothian coach of 10 years, was unaware of the rule and said none of her players have ever worn the equipment during strokes.
"It should have been called but it was a call the official should have made and not a coach," Brooks said. "It was a game very well played by both teams. It's a frustrating way to lose."
But the Wolverines were aware of the equipment rule. Grey, who doesn't need a mouthpiece while wearing her helmet in goal, put in the guard when she took the helmet off to take a stroke.
West Potomac dominated got a slow start but dominated much of the game, especially in the last 10 minutes and the overtime period.