Hopewell Blanks Colonial Heights
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Sep 14, 2012, 16:34
Hopewell junior Brittany McConnell (right) fights for possession with Colonial Heights junior Angelique Gingerich (left) near the Colonials’ goal line during a Central District game on Thursday in Colonial Heights. The Blue Devils won 4-0 (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
COLONIAL HEIGHTS – Hopewell High School junior Brittany McConnell is a fast learner.
Playing in her first Central District field hockey game, the soccer convert dubbed “Newbie” by her teammates scored twice to lead the Blue Devils to a 4-0 road win over Colonial Heights on Thursday.
Jazymme Jones and Allishia Sewell also rattled the cage for the visitors, who broke a close game open with three second-half goals.
“We looked good today, but I know we have a lot to work on,” said Hopewell coach Jordan Jarrett. “Passes looked good, so did our talking and moving to the ball. But we have to mark up a little more.”
Hopewell looked sharp from the opening whistle, but struggled to open the scoring. Buoyed by senior defender Jessica Ayscue and junior goalkeeper Ashley Schoot, the Colonials successfully repelled wave after wave of pressure for the first 20 minutes.
When the Blue Devils earned consecutive penalty corners late in the first half, a breakthrough appeared imminent.
Jones tapped in from close range to give Hopewell a 1-0 lead with 1:33 remaining. Jarrett credited that strike for putting the Blue Devils at ease and setting the stage for a flurry of goals in the second frame.
“That first goal gets them going,” Jarrett said. “It’s just a little extra oomph to do more.”
Sewell nearly doubled the lead in the waning seconds of the half. The fleet-footed forward pushed the ball through her defender’s legs and beat Schoot with a low shot that was goal-bound until Colonial Heights sweeper Angelique Gingerich swept it off the goal line to keep the Colonials within striking distance.
Hopewell’s Amber McCracken defends a Colonial Heights player during a Central District game on Thursday (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
The second half began in more balanced fashion. Colonial Heights resumed its stubborn defense and mounted several threatening counter attacks of its own.
It was only a matter of time, however, until the Blue Devils extended their lead. A scramble in the Colonials’ penalty circle saw the ball break kindly for McConnell.
With only Gingerich between her and the goal, McConnell scooped the ball into the roof of the cage with 18:43 remaining.
“I watched her stick work to see which way she was going to go,” McConnell said of the goal-line standoff. “Then I just pushed it in.”
Sewell scored the Blue Devils’ third shortly thereafter, corralling a tantalizing cross from Ciara Qualeteri before sending a low shot through traffic.
McConnell – who attended Colonial Heights High School as a freshman — provided the final margin with a strike that was eerily similar to her first.
Once again demonstrating her knack for appearing in the right place at the right time, McConnell prevailed in another goal-line duel with 4:36 left to play.
Colonial Heights came close to scoring a consolation goal on a number of occasions in the final moments, but the Colonials were unable to muster a finishing touch.
Whereas the Blue Devils came into the contest with three non-district games under their belts, Thursday’s outing was the Colonials’ season opener. Colonial Heights coach Shastan Kuschke said she was pleased with the defensive effort but would like to see her team make better use of the flanks in the future.
“Our biggest issue was – more than anything – that we played down the middle of the field,” Kuschke said. “I think once we spread the field and use our wings as we should, everything else will kind of fall into place.”
Hopewell outshot Colonial Heights 13-6 on the afternoon and held a 5-4 advantage in penalty corners. Schoot was called upon early and often, making 11 saves.
The win pushes the Blue Devils to 2-2 overall, 1-0 in district play. Jarrett said she has high expectations for her squad, which includes 11 seniors.
“They know the deal,” Jarrett said. “They know how it works and I feel like they’re ready for it.”