Relying on a starting lineup that featured eight underclassmen last Friday against Holy Cross, Bishop Ireton Coach Rick Sofield wasn’t surprised when the ball ended up in a youngster’s stick with the game on the line.
But with the final minute winding down in a tie game, freshman Kelly Larkin found a way to stun the third-year coach just the same. The midfielder turned down the shot and instead played hero with a pass, dishing off to sophomore Kelly Mathews for the wide open game-winning goal with 18 seconds left the beat the defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion Tartans, 7-6.
“It was just a huge heads-up play,” Sofield said. “You don’t expect it from a freshman.”
After graduating 11 players off last year’s team, Bishop Ireton (10-4, 4-1 WCAC) entered the spring with just three seniors and a lot of room left to grow. Though this season hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Cardinals, the talented squad is beginning to play with a poise that belies its youth.
Ireton struggled to keep up with the area’s top two teams, Georgetown Visitation and St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes, early in the season, getting outscored 32-4, but Sofield’s squad continues to round into form as the playoffs approach. Holy Cross had beaten the Cardinals in four down-to-the wire games the past two years, including a pair of playoff meetings.
“The girls have come such a long way,” said senior defender Brenna Heaney, who plans to play at Division II Rollins College in Florida next year. “Not only are the juniors stepping up to lead but even the freshmen and sophomores. Everyone is coming together to make this work.”
Sofield, a former college player at Harvard, has been slowly building the program at the Alexandria private school, working hard to increase the difficulty of the schedule each season and boost the team’s local visibility. This time around, the coach knew the Cardinals – who are anchored in the back by junior goalie Olivia Cole (Florida) – had the talent to hang with the top teams in the WCAC. (Their only conference loss came to No. 3 Good Counsel, 14-9, on April 10.)
All five of the sophomores that start played for Sofield at the club level, including his daughter Charlotte, who has already given an oral commitment to play at North Carolina. He coached many of the other current Cardinals over the years in the Fort Hunt Youth Athletic Association.
Mathews leads Bishop Ireton with 41 goals and six of the team’s top eight scorers are sophomores with the freshman Larkin (18 goals, 14 assists) also on the list.
The addition of midfielder Isabel Obregon, who orally committed to North Carolina after winning Patriot District player of the year honors as a freshman at W.T. Woodson, bolstered the already loaded sophomore class, though she and junior Kendall Cunningham (26 goals, five assists) both missed the Holy Cross game with ankle injuries.
Sofield can see the on-field chemistry to match that impressive cache of talent coming along, slowly but surely.
“I know we’re going to have good weeks and bad weeks, but as long as we’re grinding and focused on what our goals are, we’ll make progress every day,” Sofield said. “What’s hard is getting the players to believe in that. This [win against Holy Cross] sort of validates everything they’ve been doing. It’s important to get one or two of these with a young team like this.”
Woodgrove honors Yeardley Love
Woodgrove and George Mason took a moment of silence before their game Monday night in honor of Yeardley Love, the University of Virginia women’s lacrosse player who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2010.
Monday’s game was Woodgrove’s second annual One Love charitable event to raise money for the One Love Foundation, an organization founded in Love’s memory dedicated to combating relationship violence. The game raises money for the organization via the sale of T-shirts made for the event as well as ticket sales, half of which also go to the charity.
“It’s very important to our team to be able to help with stuff like this,” Woodgrove senior Olivia Becker said. “We’re playing for all those women out there who are in abusive relationships. I think it’s just really neat for people to know that we’re not just playing for us and for the name Woodgrove, but we’re able to just go bigger than that.”
Woodgrove’s fundraiser, which was organized by parents and players, got a significant boost from Fairway Independent Mortgage, which pledged $20 for every Wolverine goal and $10 for every save. After Woodgrove’s 15-2 win over George Mason, the company is on the hook for $500. Wolverines coach Bob Fuller said he wasn’t sure how much the team had raised overall because T-shirt stales are still ongoing.
“Most high school girls have boyfriends, and [Fuller has] given us the percentage on the amount of women who have been in abusive relationships,” Becker said. “He gives us the awareness on that too, and being able to help support that cause and stuff like that is really great.”
Broadneck moves up a spot after edging Severna Park last Friday behind nine saves from Northwestern-bound goalie Natalee Easthom. . . . Rivals Mount Hebron and Marriotts Ridge have split a pair of meetings each of the past two years. Both are unbeaten in Howard County play, heading into their first matchup this season on Friday. . . . St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes held on to the No. 2 spot in U.S. Lacrosse’s latest national poll, released Tuesday.
1. St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (18-0) LW: 1
2. Georgetown Visitation (16-1) LW: 2
3. Good Counsel (11-2-1) LW: 3
4. Mount Hebron (10-1) LW: 4
5. Marriotts Ridge (10-0) LW: 5
6. South River (9-2) LW: 7
7. Severn (8-4-1) LW: 6
8. Broadneck (9-2) LW: 9
9. Severna Park (8-2) LW: 8
10. Westfield (12-1) LW: 10
All records through Tuesday
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