VIRGINIA BEACH — Westfield senior Katie Winesett was about seven minutes removed from scoring what turned out to be the game-winning goal in Saturday’s Virginia 6A field hockey state title game when her teammates surrounded her in a veil of white during a timeout.
“I didn’t even know what was happening,” said Winesett, whose second-half goal sealed a 2-1 win over First Colonial. “I had a trainer under my leg trying to wrap [my knee] — this man — and these girls are ripping my kilt off.”
Moments earlier, Winesett fell after getting her feet tangled with an opponent’s stick. When she saw blood oozing from a scrape, she wiped it on her kilt, hoping the referee wouldn’t spot the wound and remove her temporarily from action.
The donor of Winesett’s replacement garb — junior forward Stephanie Carrion — made a hasty retreat to the bench, where she donned a pair of black sweatpants.
“We had to make sure our team looked sharp,” Carrion said of the episode. “It was really important, and I was kinda in the moment.”
It was a big moment.
With the win, Westfield (22-2) became the first school from the now-defunct Northern Region to win a state field hockey title since 2003.
First Colonial (22-2) dominated play early, earning a multitude of scoring chances during the first 10 minutes.
“I was very terrified,” Westfield junior Emily McNamara said. “For the majority of the first half they were in our end, and when we got it out to our forward line, we had to capitalize on every single chance that we got.”
McNamara converted her first opportunity, snaking through First Colonial’s defense and scoring on a push shot with 21 minutes 38 seconds to play in the first half to give Westfield a 1-0 lead.
First Colonial answered at the 14:41 mark when Savannah Sheridan scored on the Patriots’ fourth corner of the first half.
The score stayed knotted at 1 until Winesett redirected a feed from McNamara off a corner with 22:09 to go.
“[The ball] bounced off my stick wrong [on the first touch], but that gave me time to re-collect myself and look up,” McNamara said. “When I saw the gap, I knew Katie would be there, so I sent it.”
“It probably worked out better,” Winesett said of her teammate’s bobble, “because all [the defenders] made it to the top, and there was a wide-open lane straight to me, and I just tapped it in.”
But First Colonial wasn’t done. The Patriots mounted a furious rally late, earning a corner with just 45 seconds to play.
Once Westfield regained possession, senior Rachael Ulsh played the role of closer.
“From my angle, I couldn’t see the clock, but my teammates were telling me to ‘go slow, don’t hit it,’ ” Ulsh recalled. “So I went as slowly as I could, I hit it out to Grace [Horgan] and I hoped that the clock was counting down.”
When the buzzer sounded, the Bulldogs rushed the field.
“This is an amazing group,” Westfield Coach Starr Karl said. “They wanted it really bad.”