The sprained ankle that Marshall senior defender Sam Mills suffered in gym class yesterday had no effect on her characteristically hustle-filled play in last night's Virginia AAA Northern Region field hockey semifinal against Westfield at Oakton High School. All night, Mills sprawled, slid and dove across the field trying to save balls from going out of bounds and keep the No. 8 Bulldogs from advancing play.
"It's just a body," Mills said, smiling. "It's not that big a deal."
So when a scramble evolved in front of the Westfield net with just over 10 minutes remaining, it was no surprise to see Mills emerge with the game-winning goal in Marshall's 2-1 victory.
In the other semifinal game, also at Oakton, No. 4 W.T. Woodson advanced to its fourth consecutive state tournament by defeating Annandale, 2-1.
Mills's heroics continued a surprising season for the Statesmen (17-5), who qualified for their first state tournament. Forward Kate Villars scored in the game's first five minutes for Westfield (19-3), but Marshall's Liza Mencarini responded less than a minute later off a penalty corner to tie the game. Mills's goal was only her second of the season.
"She was absolutely everywhere for us tonight," Marshall Coach Christina Carroll said. "She deserved that goal."
W.T. Woodson (19-1-1) remained Annandale's nemesis, having defeated the Atoms
(15-5-1) in three straight region tournaments and ending their season in the past two.
Last night, W.T. Woodson took a 2-0 lead and held on against a strong Annandale attack in the second half. Cavaliers junior goalie Louise Gericke set the tone early by stopping a penalty shot.
With eight minutes to go in the first half, junior Rachelle Jackson knocked in a goal off from a penalty corner and, early in the second half, Gericke's sister Lizl blasted a shot past Annandale's keeper for what turned out to be the winning goal.
"I said to the girls, 'One goal is nice to have. With two goals you can make a mistake,' " W.T. Woodson Coach Andy Muir said. "We made a mistake, but fortunately we didn't make any more."