Madison's field hockey team learned a valuable lesson in perseverance during its 1-0 victory over Langley in the Virginia AAA Liberty District semifinals last night.
The second-seeded Warhawks had 12 penalty corners in the first half but failed to muster a goal on any of them. Hampered by the long grass on the field at South Lakes, Madison (14-3-1) adjusted at halftime by expanding its corner formation.
The move paid dividends on the Warhawks' second penalty corner of the second half. Madison senior Allison Zelinger, who was positioned closer to the sideline than usual, took the pass and sent it across the crease to sophomore Varian Tunstall. Tunstall converted from the right side for the only goal of the game.
"We have a lot of different plays and ideas, and if one doesn't work we'll try another one," Zelinger said. "We'll keep trying them until one of them does work."
Madison will face No. 2 W.T. Woodson in tomorrow's district championship -- a rematch of last year's Liberty title match. The top-seeded Cavaliers advanced to the final with a 3-0 victory over fifth-seeded Fairfax.
Although Madison had no goals to show for its offensive dominance in the first half, the Warhawks did not come to the sideline frustrated at halftime, Coach Gideon Sanders said.
"I think it's persistence," Sanders said. "The girls do a very good job of sticking with it. They don't allow themselves to get too frustrated with things. They're a very composed group."
Sanders credited Langley's defense for staving off the barrage of first-half corners and said that he altered the Warhawks' corner formation because of the long grass.
The Saxons had their share of scoring chances in the second half. The best came with about seven minutes remaining, when Langley junior Amanda Case corralled the ball close to the Warhawks' goal after a corner. She had an open look and took a hard shot on goal, but it was kicked aside by Madison goalkeeper Sammi Ashwell.
In the earlier semifinal, defending AAA state champion W.T. Woodson broke a scoreless tie early in the second half with a pair of goals that came moments apart.
Madison and Woodson played to a 0-0 tie in double overtime earlier this season and finished the regular season with matching 6-0-1 district records.
Beating W.T. Woodson "would mean the world to us," Zelinger said.