After a really difficult week against some tough opponents and with injuries continuing to pile up, Albemarle was clearly determined that this week was going to be different.
Even if Abby Meistrell had to take a field hockey ball to the face to get the job done, with Western convinced, at least temporarily, that they may have scored on the play.
“(It hit) right on my teeth and upper lip, thankfully my mouthguard helped me out,” Meistrell said. “I think I was a little confused in the moment but hoping that it hadn’t past the line and hopefully my mouth wasn’t in the goal.”
Meistrell’s mouth stopped that key Western opportunity and left her with a bloody lip and a chipped tooth. While the Warriors did score once in the second half, Albemarle answered quickly with a Kat Bianchetto goal and held on for a 2-1 victory, ending a three-game skid.
“That’s our newfound relentlessness,” said Albemarle coach Brittany McElheny. “We have decided after last week it was time to put that one in the bag because we got scored on and we were not going into overtime.”
The win came despite Albemarle piling up at least six different injuries, a battered list that includes key cogs Anna Murray and Nyla Lewis, while fellow standout Bianchetto made her return to the lineup against the Warriors. Albemarle has had to lean on a lot of its depth recently while struggling to make the pieces fit together with shutout losses to Covenant, Collegiate and Powhatan last week.
“We’ve gotten a lot of extra rotations in practice from kids that don’t usually rotate,” McElheny said. “Our entire strength down the middle was out last week and it’s still partially out this week so it has really thrown out the challenge to girls who usually don’t see playing time.”
Bianchetto netted what became the gamewinner, a quick goal in the wake of Western’s Courtney Schoeb’s equalizer in the early stages of the second half.
“We’ve tried a lot of different lineups this year so we’re comfortable just jumping in and thankfully we have a deep bench,” Meistrell said. “We’re just making it work right now.”
The Patriots took an early lead that held up through halftime when Savannah Grierson finished off a Kelsey Meyers feed for a 1-0 lead. Getting some scoring going was critical for the Patriots who have suffered through those injuries and the ensuing losing streak.
Western, meanwhile continued to make strides, turning a 5-1 loss to Albemarle nearly a month ago into a narrow 2-1 defeat.
“These guys are working so hard and they’re improving every time we come out,” said Western coach Compton Going. “The kids on the sideline and the kids on the field are working hard at contributing. They’re doing everything I’m asking them to do.”
The Patriots host Louisa County Thursday while Western travels to take on Powhatan the same afternoon.