Queen Anne’s earns first re­gion crown since 2011

Record Observer - - Sports - By AYMAN ALAM aalam@star­dem.com

QA’s 4 — Po­comoke 0

CENTREVILLE — The Lions ended their Eastern Shore por­tion of the sea­son much like how they be­gan it: with a con­vinc­ing vic­tory over the most vaunted and his­toric high school field hockey pro­gram in the area.

Queen Anne’s County High de­feated 19-time state cham­pion Po­comoke, 4-0, in the Class 1A East Re­gion fi­nal last Wed­nes­day, punch­ing tick­ets for the pro­gram’s sec­ond state tour­na­ment berth five years to the day from the first, and the con­test was never close against a War­riors team that has been shuf­fling, and re-shuf­fling, its deck all sea­son.

Sara Wal­ford rode the mo­men­tum from her gamewin­ning goal against Kent County in the sec­tion fi­nal by post­ing a hat trick, and Con­ner Allen also added a goal, while the de­fense and goal­keeper Emily Lane­hart (five saves) ex­pertly crafted a shutout of a squad that had scored 49 goals in nine wins com­ing in.

“It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing, and I’m glad I can be part of this team,” Wal­ford said. “I can’t wait go to semis, hope­fully win that, move on to states and make his­tory for the school.”

Added Queen Anne’s de­fender Josie Inzer: “We’ve been work­ing since be­fore the start of the sea­son. We did turf time, we came up to­gether as a team in prac­tice, and we’ve be­come an ac­tual fam­ily. We couldn’t have done this with­out each other. This isn’t a one-per­son unit, and it’s paid off.”

The Lions de­feated Pat­ter­son Mill, 3-0, in Mon­day’s state semi­fi­nal, and will face Lib­erty to­mor­row in the state ti­tle tilt. The 2-1 vic­tory over the tough Tro­jans two days be­fore the re­gion ti­tle tilt as­sured Queen Anne’s was tested be­fore fac­ing Po­comoke.

“I got to thank Kent County, be­cause they set us up and gave us the run for the money on Mon­day, and it just got our mo­men­tum go­ing,” Lions head coach Shana Corder said. “They just came out here and ex­e­cuted ev­ery play. The de­fense re­ally stepped it up. Josie Inzer, the last two games, she’s played the best I’ve ever seen her play, Emily had some great saves. They were just a work­ing unit back there.

“It was by far one of their best games they played all sea­son,” Corder added of her team’s per­for­mance against Po­comoke. “Su­per proud of these kids, and they knew com­ing in, open­ing the sea­son against Po­comoke, that it had to come full cir­cle. They’re such a great team, and we’re proud that we beat some­body who is so strong.”

Wal­ford scored the gamewin­ner late against Kent County, and kept right on rolling against Po­comoke, find­ing the back of the cage after a cor­ner at­tempt at the 27-minute, 52-sec­ond mark of the first half off an Allen as­sist.

Wal­ford kick­started the cor­ner from the left side and rushed in once hit­ting Allen at the top of the key. Po­comoke goalie Alana Trox­ell (seven saves) stoned Allen’s ini­tial at­tempt, but Wal­ford snuck in nearly un­marked and smacked it past for the 1-0 lead.

Less than seven min­utes later, it was 2-0, Queen Anne’s, as Wal­ford again scored off a re­bound, this time after a Kelsey Graef shot was stopped by Trox­ell and Wal­ford cap­i­tal­ized on the third at­tempt fol­low­ing a sec­ond shot in a scrum.

Mean­while, Po­comoke, the de­fend­ing 1A state cham­pion which has brought home the big hard­ware an as­tound­ing 19 times since 1983 and has made the state tour­na­ment 27 times in 33 years, scuf­fled along on both sides of the ball.

A War­riors cor­ner at the 19-minute mark of the first half ended with Kasey Lee whiff­ing on Pey­ton Becker’s en­try pass, and 5½ min­utes later, an­other cor­ner at­tempt went for naught, when Alexis Cullen was de­nied on backto-back pokes in front of the cage. Po­comoke’s third and last cor­ner of the first half was fum­bled right away, and Wal­ford deftly cleared it out of dan­ger.

“Our de­fense, we have a whole set-up for cor­ners,” Inzer said. “Coach Paul Ma­succi works so closely with us, and it shows. We all want it so bad, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key. We have to give it to Paul, be­cause he has pushed us to our po­ten­tial and makes these things hap­pen.”

The War­riors were with­out Dani Batze, who has al­ready com­mit­ted to Tem­ple University, since the last scrim­mage of the pre­sea­son, the tal­ented for­ward and No. 1 op­tion on of­fense go­ing down with a torn ACL. It started a domino ef­fect where no less than four Po­comoke play­ers were play­ing out of po­si­tion, out of com­fort zones, but it didn’t keep the War­riors from win­ning the South Bay­side di­vi­sion and mak­ing an­other run to the re­gion fi­nal.

“We over­came a lot of in­juries through­out,” War­riors head coach Brandi Cas­te­nada said. “and not just Dani, be­cause one player doesn’t make a team. We’ve re­built a to­tal of five or six times, just try­ing to put dif­fer­ent peo­ple in dif­fer­ent places, and we’re young, so that wasn’t ad­van­ta­geous.”

The Lions’ 2-0 lead at half­time was bol­stered by the re­lent­less as­sault against Po­comoke’s be­lea­guered de­fense, which yielded 12 shot at­tempts in the first 30 min­utes.

At the 22:04 mark of the sec­ond half, the back­breaker ar­rived in bizarre fash­ion.

Allen lined up a shot from about 15 yards out and chopped it at Trox­ell, whose stick save glanced off team­mate Natalie Crisa­fulli’s head and into goal, cred­it­ing Allen with the tally.

“After that, I def­i­nitely felt like we had it,” Corder said. “I just felt more at ease, and re­laxed, and so did the kids.”

“When we got that third goal, I kind of felt like it was the safety goal,” Wal­ford con­tin­ued. “But I felt like we needed one more to feel even more safe.”

Wal­ford had play­fully promised Corder a hat trick be­fore the game be­gan, and Corder laid down the re­minder as the game ven­tured in­side the fi­nal 10 min­utes. With 6:46 re­main­ing, Wal­ford de­liv­ered, scor­ing in traf­fic off a Graef as­sist to cap the blowout.

“Five years ago to this day, was the ex­act day we won our last re­gion, so there were a lot of good signs. The girls were so pumped, but also so set­tled in school to­day,” Corder said. “Sara had a hat trick in the open­ing game against Po­comoke, and go­ing into this game, Sara and I al­ways have our lit­tle con­ver­sa­tions, and Sara was like, “I’m go­ing to score three for you to­day’, and I told her, ‘Go do it’. When she scored her sec­ond, she later made the eye con­tact, and I just knew it...” Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Ay­man_S­tarDem. Email me at aalam@star­dem.com

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