Sunny success for field hockey team after the rain


Photo courtesy of Ilana Brodsky.

Smiling for the camera, the WCHS field hockey team proudly holds up the plaque for winning the county championship game.

By Rachel Mattison, Online Editor

Heavy rain pummeled the field and the game had been twice delayed, but the feeling of excitement when the whistle blew to start the inaugural Field Hockey County Championship Game was unaffected. 

For the first time in MCPS field hockey history, it was announced that the varsity field hockey season would culminate with not only a regional and state championship tournament like it has in past years, but also a county championship game. The game would include the two teams with the best records participating in a one game match to be awarded the title of county champion. After a successful 12-1 regular season, WCHS had the best team record in the county, which qualified them to play B-CC on Oct. 25 at Paint Branch High School.

Warmups for the game had to be cut short due to lightning, which required relocation to the locker rooms. There, the team hung out with each other, feeling even more connected. Unity has been a big area of focus for the team all season long and many players credited the bonds they created off-the-field, as what has helped the team succeed on-the-field.

“Through the team I have gotten close with people in so many different grades at Churchill,” WCHS sophomore and field hockey starter Emma Datch said. “Walking around the hallways and waving at my teammates has become a highlight of my day. These bonds have developed a huge amount of trust in each other which helps us click in terms of our passing and movement in games.”

Although the heavy rain never relented, the lightning did, which allowed the game to commence. After defeating B-CC 3-0 in the regular season, head coach Catherine Miller believed that making sure players were focused was key to repeating a similar result in a new environment.

“There were a lot of curveballs thrown our way that day – a shorter warm up than we are used to, a lengthy lightning delay, heavy rain,” Miller said. “We were so excited and anxious to get to play, but making sure we kept our cool and came out ready was very important.”

The Bulldogs came out ready from the very beginning and the high stakes, competitive atmosphere could be seen in the intensity of back-and-forth play. Both teams played very strong first quarters with offensive pushes and great defensive efforts to minimize opportunities in the shooting circle. With two minutes left in the quarter, WCHS was finally able to capitalize on an opportunity with junior Jordan Lapidus scoring from a pass across the goal by senior Ilana Brodsky.

“Scoring was the best feeling ever,” Lapidus said. “I was beyond excited. Scoring the first goal of the game really boosted our mindset and made us keep up our intensity.”

As the game kept going, the energy did not fade and the excitement of the game was seen by the determination of the players and loud cheering of the benches. WCHS kept pushing and trying in order to get the go-ahead goal as B-CC fought for an equalizer. The Bulldogs’ midfield and defensive units worked hard to stop attacks before they turned into shots, and the forward line had great passing and some nice shots. The B-CC goalie had a great game making many difficult saves, but was not able to get to a lifted shot into the goal by Datch.

“We were all very hungry to score again after Jordan’s goal because having a two point lead would make us feel less stressed going into the second half,” Datch said. “When I got the goal it felt great because all of my practice paid off in a big way that helped us feel more controlled in the championship game.”

As the second half began WCHS did not take the lead as an opportunity to relax and kept playing hard. B-CC did not give up, but the longer that the game went on, the more command of the game WCHS seemed to have. The Bulldogs kept shooting, getting 13 shots on goal throughout the night, compared to only one shot by B-CC, which was saved by senior goalie Courtney Cormier. Finally a shot by senior Lindsey Bedingfield found its way into the back of the net midway through the third quarter. As the game neared the end, B-CC started to get tired and WCHS continued with their positive momentum, continuing to pass well and play smartly.

“I think the reason that this team has done so well this season is that they all work together as one team,” Miller said. “We have skilled individuals and often when a team has lots of strong individuals they can struggle to all work together. The girls have learned to work together very nicely and when we play as a team we can do anything.”

As the game ticked to a close WCHS never stopped playing hard. With only eight seconds remaining, senior Lizzie Baggett drove the ball for a beautiful, definitive goal. After a fantastic season fueled by hard-work, friendships and determination, this final goal epitomized how much the WCHS team deserved to be the inaugural county champions. With their jerseys soaking wet and hair dripping, the team sprinted together to celebrate the accomplishment.

Following the win the team played in the MPSSAA playoffs. As the number one seeded team they got to play the regional tournament on their home field. They won the regional championship for the fifth straight year after defeating Gaithersburg and Wootton. That qualified them for the state tournament where they defeated Sherwood in the quarter finals and Whitman in the semi finals. The state championship game took place on Saturday, November 13 against Severna Park High School but had not yet occurred at the time of publication. Updates on the conclusion of WCHS’s season can be found on the WCHS athletics website.