Princess Anne 2, Stafford 1
The emotional jolts came one after the other for Megan Strand and the Stafford field hockey team in the late stages of Friday's Virginia AAA semifinal against Princess Anne.
First, Strand gave the Indians a one-goal lead with just more than 21 minutes to play against a Princess Anne team trying to reach the state final for the fourth time in five years. Then, in a span of 59 seconds, the Virginia Beach powerhouse scored twice to turn the game around and claim a 2-1 win at the National Training Center.
"We just tried so hard and when [our] goal came, there was just this fulfillment. We all got pumped about it," said Strand, who scored on Stafford's first penalty corner of the second half. "When they scored on us, it was kind of a shock. It all happened so fast."
Amid all the excitement following Strand's goal, Stafford Coach Robin Woodie called timeout immediately following the score, hoping to settle down her team -- which has just four seniors. She needed to warn them how capable Princess Anne was of a rally.
"We all knew, but I don't think we all really knew," Strand said. "We heard it, but we didn't process it until we saw it."
What the Indians saw was Melissa Strickland fire a free hit through the goal mouth and Katherine Price tie the game with 15 minutes 21 seconds left. Princess Anne followed that with a goal on a penalty corner from William & Mary-bound midfielder Heather Winn.
"We knew we've worked way too hard this season not to make it to the finals," said Winn, whose team lost in overtime of last year's state final to W.T. Woodson. "That goal made us angry. We knew we had to get two goals, and we weren't about to go into overtime."
Princess Anne (19-4) will play Beach District rival Cox (16-8) in Saturday's final. The Falcons advanced with a 5-0 win over L.C. Bird in Friday's second semifinal. Stafford finished 17-5.
Friday marked the first meeting between Stafford and Princess Anne in the state tournament since the 2000 state final. In that game, Stafford took the lead but lost, 3-2.
"I knew that was going to happen. In 2000, we were up by a goal and we held them for about six or seven minutes before they came back and scored two goals," Woodie said. "These girls didn't realize how quickly they could come back -- I knew. . . . I'm just extremely proud of these girls. They just played their hearts out."
Stafford was tested early, forced to kill four first-half penalty corners. The Indians kept the game scoreless through the first half and took the lead when Strand was able to tuck a rebound into the side of the cage on a penalty corner.
The Indians earned one final corner -- and its final scoring chance -- with four minutes left, but their shot missed just wide.