Dale Trounces Prince George, Takes Title
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Oct 26, 2012, 16:30
Prince George senior Mercedes Weber (left) and Thomas Dale junior Maddie Kendrick (right) battle for possession during the Central District championship game on Thursday in Midlothian. Kendrick was named the district player of the year (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
MIDLOTHIAN – These Knights refuse to be unhorsed.
The Thomas Dale field hockey team completed an unbeaten romp through the Central District on Thursday, blanking second-seeded Prince George 4-0 in the district tournament championship game at SportsQuest in Midlothian.
The win capped a perfect 10-0 district campaign for the Knights, the seventh such season in the seven-year tenure of coach Beth Jaeckle. But no matter how crowded the Thomas Dale trophy case becomes, Jaeckle said every title is as sweet as the first.
Regan Flores, a three-year varsity player and a first team all-district honoree, keyed the victory by scoring all four of the game’s goals. The senior led the tournament in scoring, racking up six goals in two games.
It took Flores less than 90 seconds to open her account against the Royals. The fleet-footed forward latched onto a cross from fellow senior Kristen Coker and flipped the ball into the cage to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.
“Regan went off with a vengeance,” Jaeckle said. “She wasn’t feeling well last game, so I guess she wanted to make sure she did her part in this game.”
Jaeckle said Flores has developed a knack for being in the right place at the right time, but added that her goal-scoring prowess is not the product of selfish play.
“Usually, when somebody’s scoring that many it means they’re a cherry picker sitting in front of the goal,” Jaeckle said. “But Regan starts at midfield and takes it for a run. She’s really tough to defend.”
That was plain to see under the SportsQuest lights.
Flores doubled the Knights’ advantage with 12:50 remaining in the first half. Once again, a tantalizing cross – this one from the stick of senior Kelly Richards – found its way to Flores on the back post. Once again, the forward converted the chance with a textbook finish.
“I just think my teammates know exactly where to place the ball,” Flores said. “I guess somehow I end up there and it goes in.”
The phenomenon occurred two more times on the other side of halftime. Flores scored on a goal-line scramble with 14:39 left to play and provided the final margin with a finesse shot in the final minute.
Despite the shaky start, Prince George gained confidence as the game progressed. There were stints when a goal appeared imminent for the Royals. Their most promising chances came when a yellow card reduced Thomas Dale to 10 players midway through the second half.
But the breakthrough never came for Prince George, which advanced to the finals with a 2-0 win over Hopewell on Tuesday.
Prince George goalkeeper Kayla Hill registered five saves while Bridget Schindel, Thomas Dale’s net minder, accrued four saves in the shutout.
The upside for the runners up is that their second-place finish earned them a berth in next week’s Central Region tournament. Prince George (6-4 district, 8-8 overall) will travel to play Cosby – the Dominion District champion – on Monday.
Thomas Dale (10-0, 15-1) will open that tournament on the same day against a familiar foe in Midlothian. The Knights beat the Trojans 5-2 in a non-district game earlier this season, but Jaeckle said that scoreline flattered her team.
“If you watched the game you would not think that score was accurate,” Jaeckle said. “They’re tough, and I know they’re going to want us.”
Flores echoed her coach’s cautionary words.
“I know they’re going to come out strong, so we have to be prepared for that,” Flores said. “We have to come out stronger and just be calm, relax and play our game.”
The Thomas Dale High School field hockey team poses with the Central District regular season and tournament trophies after beating Prince George in the championship game on Tuesday in Midlothian. The Knights were undefeated in district play this season (photo by Jacob Vaughan).