Early Goal Signals End For Blue Devils
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Oct 16, 2013, 07:54
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
CHESTER — A team’s mentality and their belief in themselves always become displayed on the scoreboard at the end of the game. For Hopewell’s field
hockey team, it was displayed in the equivalent of neon lights.
For the second consecutive game, the Blue Devils were victims of the mercy rule, this time against perennial field hockey power Thomas Dale by a 9-0 margin.
Yet, it seemed the mentality the Hopewell (1-6) players brought into the game was not one poised to score an upset, but instead ready to give in to a Knights’ squad which pushed the tempo from the opening whistle. In fact, just 35 seconds into the match, Thomas Dale’s Maddie McCormick tallied the game’s first goal, resulting in Hopewell’s players slumping their heads down.
It’s something co-captain Ieasha McComber says has to change if the Blue Devils are to finish the season on a high-note.
“We come in here with the mentality that it’s Thomas Dale and we’re going to lose,” she said. “We have that mind-set and when they start scoring, everyone’s heads go down low instead of keeping it up.”
Added team captain Brittany McConnell:
“We all sort of held our heads down and kinda gave up and we shouldn’t have.”
And it was that attitude which allowed the Knights (7-3) to dominate possession and score at will. Thomas Dale’s Maddie Kendrick scored goals at the 3:06 mark and 9:46 mark of the first half while Maddy Smith and Jenna Davis also helped add to the scoresheet in a six-goal first half.
The six goals allowed in the first half marked the second consecutive game Hopewell has conceded that many in the first half, putting them in a hole too big to climb out from, especially for a team struggling to score.
Yet, the six goals could have been much worse if it were not for the play in net by Taylor Henderson. Under siege for all of the first half and most of the game, Henderson saved 12 shots in the first half alone.
“Our defense did really good,” McComber said about the the given circumstances. “We stayed strong. We didn’t really give up, but we still let goals go in.”
The circumstances McComber alluded to were plenty: Hopewell had not played a game since their loss to Matoaca nearly two weeks ago, the field conditions were not the best after dealing with a week of rain and homecoming festivities last week prevented the team to practice with new players.
But those reasons would also take away credit from a Thomas Dale squad which dominated play throughout the game, firing shots from all over the field against bewildered Hopewell squad.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
Yet, McConnell said she was not surprised by the aggressiveness of the Knights’ forwards.
“I was used to it from last year,” McConnell said of Thomas Dale’s strategy. “I expected it, but I was hoping they wouldn’t. We just need to get in front of white when they are hitting it out and turn up field.”
Turning up field was not just an issue in the game against the Knights — the Blue Devils never even entered the offensive zone until the 15 minute mark of the first half — but an issue which has plagued the team all season.
Hopewell has allowed their opponents to dominate possession and on the rare opportunities they have to attack, they struggle to put the finishing touches on an attempted shot or over analyze the attacking situation.
McComber said the Blue Devils can learn from Thomas Dale and their eagerness to fire shots toward net, especially with their lack of scoring — just one goal all season — becoming a major issue.
“Everybody just chokes up,” McComber said. “But if we just started shooting, just taking shots, good things can happen.”
The good news for the Blue Devils is there is still time to turn the season around and capture some wins for the seniors who are in their final season on the squad.
Perhaps most importantly though is a change in mindset when they ready to face Thomas Dale again next week again.
“We need to push ourselves,” McComber said as her playing career winds down. “We can go in there like a new team and just play on their level.”
Whether they can get there or not will depend on the team’s attention to detail and willingness to work even in the face of adversity, something they have lacked this season.