As a team that has outscored opponents 112-5 in its 20 wins, Westfield is not accustomed to being embroiled in a scoreless game at halftime as the Bulldogs were Saturday night in the Virginia AAA Northern Region field hockey championship at Washington-Lee.
That tie did not last for long. When play resumed, Westfield scored twice in the first six minutes and went on for a comfortable 4-1 win over South County for their second region title in seven years.
That was the same score by which South County had beaten Westfield in last year’s final.
“I think we just needed to realize that it’s going to be a fast game and we’ve been playing teams that are not near as tough as them so we knew that we had to play fast,” Westfield All-Met senior midfielder Meghan Winesett said of the second-half surge. “We didn’t want to get too emotional. We wanted to play with our heads, not just with our heart.”
Both teams advanced to the state quarterfinals. South County (17-6) will play at Northwest Region champion Stafford at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Westfield (20-2) will host Northwest runner-up Mountain View at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The only Northern Region team to win the state title since 1986 is W.T. Woodson in 2003.
Junior Katelyn Rennyson scored the Bulldogs’ first goal a little more than two minutes into the second half off an assist from sophomore Emily McNamara, and Winesett made it 2-0 on an unassisted goal less than four minutes later.
“The difference between this and last year [in the region final] is that last year we were just so excited at qualifying for states that we looked ahead to that and we didn’t focus on this,” junior defender Rachael Ulsh said. “But this time we totally forgot about states and played like this could be our last game.”
“The game [pace] really stepped up [in the second half], and we play a much better game when it’s a very fast-paced game,” said Westfield Coach Starr Karl, whose team, for the game, fired 17 shots to South County’s six and had 14 penalty corners to the Stallions’ four.
South County quickly answered Westfield’s second goal when senior Alexis Schramm scored with 21 minutes and 18 seconds left in the game. About five minutes later, Winesett assisted McNamara, and late in the game Winesett scored on a penalty stroke.
“Meghan, tonight, again, was a woman amongst girls,” Karl said. “She took the ball and she just knew exactly what to do with it and just played with so much confidence.”
Westfield, which has not lost to a local team this season, returned its defenders from last year and has emphasized offense, namely maximizing opportunities. And they often score in bang-bang fashion. So the second-half goal cluster did not come as a surprise.
“We always say that we will a lot of our goals in,” Winesett said. “It doesn’t come easily. It’s just that last diving effort or that last minute even though you’re tired that gets most of our goals.”