It almost worked in reverse. In the first meeting with Monticello, the Charlottesville field hockey team saw the Mustangs race out to a comfortable lead and hang on. This time around, playing in pretty miserable sopping wet conditions and on the road, the Black Knights flipped the script and took an early lead only to hold on dearly after the Mustangs mounted a comeback that ultimately fell short. The 2-1 win for Charlottesville on Thursday night offered coach Lindsay Clark a great teaching moment.
“I’m just so proud of the girls,” Clark said. “We talk about working hard and communicating well and with it the results will come. If you just stick with it we’ll improve and we have.”
Charlottesville got on the board quickly with freshman Lily Kate Sweeney coming up with a nice finish on a give and go just under four minutes in the game to make it 1-0 and make an already fired up bench that much more raucous.
“One of my favorite things is cheering really loudly for the (junior varsity) team before our games so to hear them and the rest of the bench cheering for joy was just music to my ears,” Sweeney said. “(On the goal) I just kept my head down focused, tried to keep it simple and took my time and one touched it in.”
The Black Knights needed just a little over four more minutes to draw a pair of short corners back-to-back off each other when they were able to get Monticello to score accidentally on itself. On the second corner Alex Ferguson set up Julia Smith who uncorked a heavy shot that ping-ponged into the Mustangs defense and wound up in the back of the cage with 21:22 left until the half.
“That was so nice because we’ve been the team having to play from behind in a lot of our games,” Clark said. “We got up and then had to buckle down and play defense, communicate and pass well which is what you want as a team.”
The Mustangs called a timeout and applied a good bit of pressure in the last 12 minutes of the first half. Josie Mallory and Kiersten Zimmerman put together a fast break that the Black Knights defense was able to stop. Then Ari Oliver and Caitlyn Bahn got another pressure but came up just short. Down 2-0 at the break, the Mustangs got a goal from Jordan Jackson on an assist from Caleigh Smith to make it 2-1 with 26:31 to play.
While both teams went back and forth, as the rain fell harder, the opportunities dried up with just one short corner the rest of the way and both teams keeping things at midfield and on the edge. In the last two minutes Mallory and Oliver were able to get deep in Charlottesville territory but couldn’t get a shot on goal.
“It was an electric atmosphere and we’re just really happy to pick up the win,” Sweeney said. “We had to fight really hard and are really happy with the results.”
Charlottesville improves to 5-4 and gets a trip to Orange County on Monday. Monticello falls to 4-3 with a drive to Culpeper up next on Monday as well.