Madison 0, W.T. Woodson 0

The ball had plenty of speed and was coming from a tricky angle when it crossed in front of Madison goalkeeper Sammie Ashwell late in the second overtime of the Warhawks' field hockey game against visiting W.T. Woodson last night.

It was one of many solid scoring chances Ashwell faced on a cool night in Vienna, but the ball didn't go in. The Warhawks, bidding to score an upset of the defending AAA state champion Cavaliers, had many opportunities, too.

But defense prevailed at both ends and the Liberty District game ended 0-0.

Before a spirited crowd, the Warhawks (7-2-1, 1-0-1) were hoping to prove last year's surprising run to the Northern Region semifinals was no fluke. They immediately showed off their speedy attack -- keyed particularly by Angie Glynn -- creating breakaway chances throughout the first half. But third-ranked W.T. Woodson (9-2-1, 2-0-1), led by midfielders Lizi Gericke and Ashley McCulloch and with support from goalkeeper Janelle Barth, turned them away each time. By the second half, and for much of the two 15-minute sudden-death overtimes, the Cavaliers enjoyed a slight advantage in possession.

"Both teams were pretty equal," said McCulloch, whose team had won six in a row. "I guess we'll find out in the playoffs who is better. We had some chances, but we just couldn't get the touch on the ball to get it through."

Ashwell made the difference on many tries. She stayed poised under fire, leaving her feet just once to stop a scoring chance.

Warhawks Coach Gideon Sanders said he entered this season with a lot of confidence in Ashwell's ability to shut down opponents.

"She really played a great region tournament last year, and she's come even further this year," Sanders said. "A lot of times last night you could hear the 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the fans when she made a save, but I could see from the sidelines that she was tracking the ball all the way."

Said Ashwell: "My heart stopped on a few of them. But we came ready to play hard. Getting a tie with a team like Woodson is impressive."

The Cavaliers seemed to have more energy than Madison in the first overtime. Mounting pressure throughout the period, played with seven players on a side, W.T. Woodson earned the only four penalty corners taken in the extra session.

W.T. Woodson's Rachelle Jackson twice had open chances, but Ashwell was positioned perfectly to turn her attempts aside. It wasn't until midway through the second 15-minute overtime that Ashwell had to leave her feet, when Cavaliers came from several directions toward the net, creating traffic, hoping to get their stick on a loose ball.

Madison's Jessie Robbins, right, knocks the ball past W.T. Woodson's Nina Pannoni.