South County senior forward Isabel Josephs credited an unlikely source for her two-goal performance in the Stallions’ 2-1 win over defending Northern Region champs Westfield on Wednesday night – Bulldogs’ Coach Starr Karl.
Karl is a coach for Rampage field hockey, an elite indoor program that practices in Fairfax. The program’s top-two feeder schools? Westfield and South County.
Josephs plays with Rampage on a year-round basis. On Wednesday in Lorton, she did her damage inside a three-minute span.
First, she buried a sweep in front of a crowded net with 25 minutes, 25 seconds to play in the first half.
According to Josephs, her second tally – a thigh-high drive she cranked from just inside the circle – was the result of a wide-open shooting lane.
“I always curl [to the] right because it’s my strong side,” Josephs said. “That opened up and no one stepped to me.”
South County first-year Coach Nina Pannoni sees Josephs’ varied skill set as perhaps her biggest weapon.
“She’s able to dribble down the field, she’s able to shoot, she’s got a bunch of different skills, and she looks for her teammates to help her,” said Pannoni, who steps in this season after former Stallions’ Coach Leah Conte was promoted to Director of Student Activities at the school.
For Westfield (0-1), Wednesday marked the start of life without 2012 All-Met Player of the Year Megan Winesett, who’s now a freshman field hockey player at Delaware.
Karl said the Bulldogs won’t have to alter their philosophy much this season, since Winesett was more of a feeder, constantly deferring scoring opportunities to teammates.
Westfield had its opportunities, racking up eight corners to South County’s two.
The Stallions saw their lead cut in half when Westfield sophomore Sara Ayoub scored on a feed from junior Stephanie Carrion with 26 minutes left in the second half.
Second half possession favored the Bulldogs, and the shift in momentum prompted Pannoni to call a timeout with 17:50 left to play.
“I just felt like our intensity had shifted,” Pannoni said, “so I wanted to bring them together and pick them back up.”
But for Karl, who called Wednesday part of a “learning curve,” the Bulldogs’ efforts didn’t merit a win.
“It was slow,” she said. “We weren’t cutting back to the ball. From the very start of the game, [South County] wanted the game more.”
The speed might not be an issue for Westfield moving forward this season. Wednesday was the first and only time the Bulldogs will play on grass during the regular season.
Beneath the surface, Josephs thinks chemistry will pay on-the-field dividends for South County.
“This squad, we have no cliques,” she said. “We’re all one big group.”