Wal­ford boosts Li­ons past KC, into re­gion ti­tle tilt

QA’s 3 — Kent County 2

Record Observer - - Sports - By CHRIS KNAUSS ck­nauss@star­dem.com

CENTREVILLE — Fac­ing what ap­peared to be an­other over­time game Mon­day af­ter­noon, Sara Wal­ford got every­one home be­fore the trick-or-treaters ar­rived.

Wal­ford slammed in a re­bound with 34 sec­onds re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion play as Queen Anne’s County High’s field hockey team earned a 3-2 vic­tory over Kent County to ad­vance to the Class 1A East Re­gion ti­tle game against Po­comoke.

The Li­ons, who nipped Kent County on penalty strokes to end the reg­u­lar sea­son, con­trolled the ac­tion in their Sec­tion II fi­nal, but the Tro­jans made the most of their scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Tay­lor John­son rolled in a shot on a fast break to tie the game, 2-2, with just 2:22 re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion.

The Li­ons (12-1-1) didn’t panic, though, and con­trolled play again with time wind­ing down. Mckenna Blick drove a hard shot from near the top of the cir­cle that was blocked by Tro­jans goalie Macken­zie Pea­cock, but Wal­ford was po­si­tioned per­fectly and swat­ted in the re­bound.

“We had all heart and we wanted it re­ally bad,” Wal­ford said. “But Kent did too. We both re­ally wanted it. We knew it was go­ing to be a tough game, but we just hap­pened to give it our all with the last sec­onds left.”

Kent County (10-4) man­aged one more shot in the fi­nal sec­onds, but it rolled wide right and time ran out.

“I knew they were go­ing to give us a bat­tle go­ing into it,” Li­ons head coach Shana Corder said. “But hey, it’s play­offs, and that’s what’s ex­pected.”

Gabrielle Corder opened the game’s scor­ing with 9 min­utes left in the first half. Off a penalty-corner pass, she drib­bled ahead a few yards and stroked a roller that ric­o­chet­ted high off the ground and bounced off the cross­bar be­fore rolling into the back of the cage for a 1-0 lead, which was where the game stood at the half.

With 11 min­utes re­main­ing in the se­cond half, the Tro­jans tied it up. Abby Crock­ett sent a penalty-corner pass into the goal area and, af­ter a flurry of ac­tion in front of Li­ons goalie Emily Lane­hart, the ball was knocked into the cage by Ally Hick­man.

With the Tro­jans look­ing for come­back vic­tory, Queen Anne’s coun­tered just over a minute later. Gabrielle Corder sent a pass into the goal area from the left wing and the ball may have got­ten a boost by team­mate Macken­zie Man­des be­fore Wal­ford knocked it into the left side of the cage for a 2-1 lead with 9:55 to play.

Queen Anne’s con­tin­ued to ap­ply pres­sure in an at­tempt to gain some dis­tance, but Pea­cock made a save on an­other shot by Wal­ford and a shot by Blick rolled wide. A shot by Kait­lyn Karns also bounced wide and an­other one of her shots was turned away by Pea­cock. Kent County de­fend­ers thwarted two corner-play op­por­tu­ni­ties and Pea­cock stopped a shot by Kelsey Graef be­fore the Tro­jans pieced to­gether their fast break that led to John­son’s ty­ing goal.

For the game, the Li­ons swat­ted 35 shots com­pared to eight for the Tro­jans. Queen Anne’s cre­ated 11 penalty-corner op­por­tu­ni­ties com­pared to two for Kent County.

Pea­cock fin­ished with 12 saves. Lane­hart had three saves, in­clud­ing an ag­gres­sive block to stop a Tro­jans’ break just prior to their first goal.

“This group that we have, they’re just so re­lent­less,” Coach Corder said. “In years past we’ve had great teams, but this team just doesn’t give up. They’ve been down be­fore and they just fight back. That was my mes­sage to them af­ter they tied it back up again and I called a time­out. I was like, ‘No hurt, you guys just got to ride it, get your goal back and those kids do it.

“We have set plays and set plans for what’s go­ing on and they were a lit­tle ner­vous, and I could see their nerves, but I could also see the nerves in Kent too. But in the end of the day we just came out on top and I’m su­per proud of them.”

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @csknauss.email me at ck­nauss@star­dem.com

PHOTO BY CHRIS KNAUSS

Queen Anne’s Olivia Lewis, right, and Kent County’s Car­o­line McLeod bat­tle for pos­ses­sion of the ball Mon­day af­ter­noon at Queen Anne’s County High School.

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