West Potomac played perhaps its best game of the season yesterday in the Virginia AAA field hockey championship at Langley, but it was not enough to offset Kempsville's skillful stickwork and strong drives. Kempsville of Virginia Beach won the game, 2-1, on Alisa Crowder's goal in overtime to earn its third state title in 10 years.

West Potomac was on the defensive much of the first half, holding the Chiefs scoreless despite their numerous attacks.

Kempsville finally broke through after intermission. Donna Vaughan hit a high cross from Meyon Puent off a corner into the goal for a 1-0 Chiefs lead.

The Wolverines reacted immediately by threatening Kempsville goalkeeper Julie Hammond with numerous shots. At the 21-minute mark of the period, after half a dozen deflected shots, West Potomac's Rachel Burke shot the ball out of a crowd and into the net to tie the game at 1-1.

In overtime, a tired Kempsville squad allowed the Wolverines to gain possession and dominate early. But midway through the overtime, the Chiefs again took control. After three consecutive penalty corner hits, Kempsville's Puent passed the ball in front of the net, where Crowder was able to score the game-winner.

Those corners were the key for the Chiefs. Whereas many teams hit the ball to one center player from the corner, Kempsville passed the ball off to the outside to set up a cross to four players in the middle.

"If you have the ball going across the field {instead of straight to the middle}, four people have a chance at hitting it," Kempsville Coach Judy Nicklas said. "We wanted to get the ball into scoring position by taking the easiest short corner {pass} that we could. That has been very effective for us."

West Potomac Coach Carol Horton, although disappointed by the loss, still was happy at her team's unexpected advancement to the state final. After graduating 13 players from last year's team, West Potomac surpassed Horton's expectations with a 13-4 mark this season.

"I thought we played well enough to win," Horton said. "I think we rose to the occasion and looked like a team that deserved to be in the state final."