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FIELD HOCKEY is no easy game. There's all that crouched-over running up and down the field, tapping at a hard ball with the tiny head of a short stick. Scores (in good games) are low. It takes grit to win--and that's exactly what the Chancellor High Schools girls showed on Saturday in Virginia Beach when they became Group AA/A state champions in the sport.
The Chargers were meeting a formidable foe: Tabb High School in Yorktown has been a perennial powerhouse in the sport. For four years running, they've held the state title. In fact, before Saturday the Tigers hadn't allowed a single score in the championship game since they beat James Monroe, 3-2 in overtime, in 2008. And last year's meeting of the Chargers and Tigers did not go well for Chancellor: Tabb slammed them, 5-0, in the state semifinals.
It's understandable, then, that the Chancellor girls have had their eye on Tabb since the beginning of the year. After a strong season, even a loss to James Monroe in the Battlefield District Championship game (3-2 in overtime) could not deter them. Coach Jim Larkin encouraged them to focus on the big prize: Picture the win. Picture your championship banner on the wall in the gym. Picture that hard little ball sliding into the goal.
Which it did, less than three minutes into overtime in the state championship game. The score was tied 1-1 when Katherine Hull's pass found Kate Colley standing near the Tabb goal with no defender in between her and sweet victory. One quick shot and the Tigers were vanquished. What Tabb's coach called the "battle of wits" was won. The Chargers had their banner.
The mouthguards, the protective eye gear, the shinguards, the cleats, the hard balls, and those short little sticks will now be put away, at least for a time. But lessons learned on the field about self-discipline and team play, and the feel of that sweet victory will last a long, long time. Congratulations to Chancellor on a season well-played.