Winless and scoreless through three games, frustration was apparent, both on the field and along the sidelines. You could sense it--even feel it--especially on this afternoon against neighboring George Mason. Free hits found the opposition, leading to breakaways going the other way. Turnovers were the rule of the day. It was not pretty. It was, to be sure, frustrating.
All that, and the game was still scoreless at halftime. Coach Mary Quinn’s girls were battling – and, in doing so, making a game of it. It was not for a lack of effort; the effort was there. It just did not show on the scoreboard.
Chemistry was lacking. For whatever reason, the Knights’ play on the field itself was not in sync.There was little to no flow in their game. Passes went awry or were just out of reach. There were few shots on goal. Despite controlling the action most of the first 25 minutes, the field hockey team had nothing to show for it at intermission in a 0-0 stalemate.
In the second half, the DJO girls succumbed and George Mason capitalized, posting a 4-0 win with three goals in the final 11 minutes. The Lady Knights fell to 0-3 on the season, still looking for their first goal. It was a team looking for answers, and, in some ways, a team is despair.
Following the loss of ten players (graduation and transfers) from a year ago, it is a rebuilding year for the Knights who are still seeking to find some cohesion in their game. Without question, it is a work in progress. Nothing that a win would not cure. Winning cures all, or so it seems on the athletic pitch.
Twenty-four hours later would prove as much.
Depth was an issue...perhaps a key even in Wednesday’s loss. That noted, Coach Quinn reached down to the junior varsity and brought up three players for Thursday’s encounter at Flint Hill. Seeking additional speed and assertiveness on offense, Lily Saunders and Jessica Manning were summoned with Grace Dhondt called upon to share goalie duties with Casey Shows.
Saunders made the most of her debut at the varsity level, scoring the Knights’ first goal of the 2014 campaign off a nice pass from Olivia Barksdale (pictured top) en route to a 2-0 win over Flint Hill. Shannon Cross (pictured left) added an insurance goal, and the DJO girls returned home victorious.
An injection of some youth and some veteran know-how proved a winning formula for Coach Quinn and her youngsters. Happy days are here again.
And rightfully so!
The 2014 edition has some outstanding players in Barksdale, Cross, Brooke Fernandez, Maddie Kelly, Tori Adams (pictured right) and Emma Holleran – all of whom have been playing together since the program was revamped four years ago and “have grown up together” as a team.
Against Flint Hill, Fernandez controlled the defense behind the 16-yard-line and in the circle, and Kelly, Cross and Barksdale dominated between the 25-yard-lines supporting the offense. Lesson learned in the Ireton loss was how to modify their offensive corners – and, in doing so, the Knights were able to use that tactic effectively in pressuring Flint Hill’s defense.
Admittedly still experimenting with her lineup and trying to find the best combination that works together on the field of play, Coach Quinn acknowledges that conditioning and aggressively going after every loose ball will determine the DJO girls’ success when all is said and done in the next five weeks.
As Coach Quinn observed afterwards, rebuilding is always tough, but doing so in the increasingly competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is going to be especially challenging. But she is encouraged that more and more of her players are participating in local clubs and on travel team,s not to mention a large freshman class in the JV ranks with some very good athletes. In an effort to further promote the sport, O’Connell is hosting a field hockey clinic on Saturday, Sept. 20 with hopes of building interest in the program in the Catholic elementary schools.
This is Tommy Orndorff and that was The Week That Was.