Edison sophomore sweeper Tara White remembers the huffing and puffing last field hockey season. The Eagles were fatigued at the end of games, allowing opponents to pull out late victories. The result was a fourth-place finish in the Virginia AAA National District.

This year, thanks to an intense offseason conditioning program, Edison is having no such problems.

Before Tuesday night's overtime defeat to district opponent Mount Vernon, the Eagles (10-5-1, 6-1) had won eight of their past nine games -- with the lone loss coming against No. 7 Westfield -- and clinched the district's regular season title.

Edison has scored four more goals and held opponents to 13 fewer goals than last season. Second-year coach Ginger White said that her defense's ability to play in the opposing zone and have the stamina to hustle back and defend a counterattack is a big reason for the team's success.

"I play sweeper, so I push everyone up on offense," Tara White said. "If we do push up, we don't have much of a problem recovering."

Senior Stephanie Cardozo, a three-year varsity player, also remembers the offseason training, which consisted of frequent running and trips to the weight room, but is pleased with the results.

"We've been working a lot harder than in years past," she said. "We weren't as conditioned as we could have been before."

Northern Region teams begin district playoffs tomorrow; Edison has a bye and will start with a semifinal on Monday at Washington-Lee. The Eagles think their improved play outside of the National District may help down the line. After losing all their nondistrict contests last year, Edison is 4-4-1 outside the National this season, and played Westfield tough in the team's 2-1 loss.

"We were in just as good condition as Westfield, we just couldn't get it in as many times," Tara White said. "I think we'll have a chance against anybody."

Sophomore Tara White and senior Stephanie Cardozo, right, lead a well-conditioned Edison team. "We've been working a lot harder than in years past," Cardozo said.