Less than two minutes into the first overtime of the 4A South Region final between Springbrook and Magruder yesterday, Blue Devils attack Lauren Kessler found herself behind the Colonels' defense with only the goalie left to beat. But instead of lifting Springbrook to the win, she sent a right-handed shot just wide.
Fortunately for Kessler and the Blue Devils, a nearly identical situation presented itself three minutes later and this time the junior made no mistake. Taking a low centering feed from attack Yuri Sin, Kessler made one move toward the middle of the field before unleashing a powerful strike that found the back left corner of the cage for the 2-1 win and a spot in the 4A state playoffs.
"I like the open field of [seven-on-seven] overtime because there's so much room to move," said Kessler, who was mobbed by her teammates after the goal. "After the first one [overtime miss], I needed redemption."
For the second consecutive game, Springbrook (13-2) had to deal with an unfamiliar situation. After being behind in games only twice previously this season, the Blue Devils trailed 3-0 after 20 minutes of a semifinal against Whitman. Springbrook responded with four unanswered goals, earning the 4-3 win.
Facing Magruder (11-6), the Blue Devils were taken out of their normally aggressive play by an attacking, defensive-minded Colonels team that consistently frustrated the Springbrook attack. Blue Devils Coach Kearney Francis adjusted her offensive strategy, bringing an extra player forward, but found little success until overtime.
"They were impenetrable and we were fortunate to come away with this win," Francis said. "A lot of this was the hockey gods. We were lucky."
Springbrook got on the board first less than two minutes into the game, when defender Leah Arthurs corralled a loose ball in front of the Magruder cage and put a wrist shot by Colonels goalie Carolyn Freel. Magruder responded in the eighth minute as Kellie Collins redirected midfielder Kristie Blumer's re-start to tie the score. Following the early goals, both defenses clamped down and began controlling the game.
The Blue Devils will play the winner of the C.M. Wright and Delaney game on Tuesday at South River.