For 50 minutes of yesterday's Northwestern Region field hockey championship, it seemed host Stafford was destined not to score. Any shot North Stafford's defense or its senior goalie, Lindsay Gahr, did not block went inches wide.

But with just more than eight minutes remaining in regulation, Stafford junior Lorrie Watts scored, and about three minutes into sudden-death overtime she added another goal to give the Indians a 2-1 victory and their third consecutive region title.

Stafford (15-3) advanced to play Centreville in Thursday's 6 p.m. Virginia AAA state quarterfinal match at Oakton. North Stafford will face West Potomac at 7:45 p.m. at Oakton.

Stafford outshot the Wolverines 25-7, but Gahr made 15 saves, and her defense made several more spectacular blocks.

"It gets frustrating when you take so many shots and nothing goes in," Watts said. "But we just kept going at it. We really picked it up in the second half and outworked them."

North Stafford, which had surrendered three second-half goals in losing to Stafford in the Commonwealth District final last week, came out strong yesterday and took a 1-0 lead on senior Leigh Swift's goal less than three minutes into the game.

As the first half wound down, the Indians gradually began to gain a territorial advantage and nearly scored with 2 minutes 21 seconds left. North Stafford junior Lauren Boatwright, however, raced in behind Gahr to save Ashley Roberson's shot at the goal line.

In the second half, Gahr continued to shine, once making four saves in rapid succession as Stafford swarmed around the goal. During that same sequence in front of the North Stafford goal, Swift lay on the ground and stopped a shot with the shaft of her stick.

"Our defense did an excellent job of keeping the ball out of the cage," North Stafford Coach Eliza Scott said. "We are on the right track for next week. . . . We just need to keep our heads up and remember that only eight teams in the state are still playing hockey, and we are one of them."

Stafford sophomore Amy Galivan figured out a way past Gahr when she took the ball down the right wing and sent a sharp centering pass to Watts, whose quick shot sneaked in from about six yards.

The winning goal was similar as senior Stephanie Heffernan hit a powerful restart from the right sideline in front of the goal. Junior Angela Feindt was the first to swing at this one, but the shot would have gone wide if not for Watt's deflection into the empty left side of the net.

"This was a great test for us," Stafford Coach Robin Woodie said. "North Stafford came out and stopped every ball and beat us to every ball. They were on today."

North Stafford 1 0 0--1

Stafford 0 1 1--2

GOALS--North Stafford: Swift; Stafford: Watts 2.

ASSISTS--Stafford: Galivan, Feindt.

SHOTS--North Stafford 7, Stafford 25.

SAVES--North Stafford Gahr 15; Stafford Be. Decatur 2.

PENALTY CORNERS--North Stafford 5, Stafford 5.