The West Potomac field hockey team was on the losing end of a controversial call that decided the game and heavy underdog Stafford lost a close game last night in the semifinals of the Virginia AAA state tournament at Oakton.
West Potomac, which won the Northern Region championship last week on the same field, lost 1-0 to James River on a penalty stroke. Northwestern Region champion Stafford fell, 2-0, to nine-time champion Frank W. Cox of Virginia Beach, although Stafford dominated play.
James River, the Central Region champion, and Cox, the Eastern Region champion, will meet today at 1 p.m. at Oakton for the championship.
West Potomac (14-7) had more corners and shots than James River, but with 8 minutes 45 seconds remaining a penalty stroke was called when Wolverines junior back Vicki Robella was ruled to have interfered with the Rapids' Deborah Marshall in the penalty circle. Marshall then scored by sneaking a shot just past the right pad of West Potomac senior goalie Kristine Hoffman.
"They got tripped when their sticks got caught," Hoffman said of Robella and Marshall. "By no means was Vicki trying to trip the girl down. I think it should have been a penalty, but not a penalty stroke. We've had that happen to us a lot of times this year, but it hasn't been called."
Stafford (16-4) controlled play against Cox for the game's first 10 minutes but couldn't score. Cox has outscored opponents by a 110-4 margin this season.
"We definitely belonged on this field tonight," Stafford Coach Robin Woodie said.
-- Seth Emerson
Clinches IAC Title
After losing to Bullis twice during the Interstate Athletic Conference regular season and being dominated in the scoreless first half of yesterday's tournament final, the Georgetown Prep boys found a winning formula with little time to spare.
With some creative problem-solving and a few savvy tactical changes, the Little Hoyas manufactured a goal by senior Matt Lawler in the 48th minute and made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over the top-seeded Bulldogs at St. Albans. The win gave the Little Hoyas (9-6-2, 7-5-1) their first IAC title.
Bullis (12-6-1, 9-2-0) did everything in the first 40 minutes but score. Its efficiency started in the back, with sophomore right back Mike Senkowski and sophomore sweeper Carlos Parra shutting down Georgetown Prep's forwards and engineering a precise passing attack that led to numerous scoring opportunities. But each time, Hoyas freshman goalkeeper Nick Noble (five saves in the first half) denied Bullis at the doorstep.
"We had to put pressure on [Senkowski and Parra], because that's where their feeding was. There was a certain element of predictability in their game," Georgetown Prep Coach Guy Fraiture said. "In the second half, we had to do a better job of using the width of the field. I thought their outside defenders were vulnerable."
Fraiture put his plan into action by introducing freshman forward Brian Joyce, who stretched the Bulldogs defense with his effective running on the right wing, and asking his offense to pressure the Bullis backfield and deny it time to pass.
Georgetown Prep began to carry the game. Early in the second half, Joyce's corner kick found the head of Lawler, who flicked it into the far-side netting for the game's only goal. Lawler then moved back to defense to further clog a frustrated Bullis attack and help the Hoyas grind out the win.
"The last two games were all about hustle," Lawler said, referring also to a 1-0 semifinal upset over second-seeded Landon. "We just wanted it more."
-- Brian Straus