It took a while, but when the stakes became the highest, that’s when the Yorktown Patriots started playing their best field hockey of the 2019 campaign, in what has become an historic season for the girls team.
As a result, the Patriots (9-13) are 4-2 in the playoffs so far, including a runner-up finish in the 6D North Region Tournament. By reaching the region final for the first time in program history, Yorktown also earned a Virginia High School League Class 6 state-tournament berth, also for the first time.
All six of Yorktown’s playoff matches have been on the road.
Yorktown lost to the favored Langley Saxons in the Nov. 6 region final to finish 2-1 in the competition. Langley has defeated Yorktown four times this fall (all but shutouts), and the teams could meet again in states.
Langley scored its two goals in the region final in the second half. Yorktown had a few quality chances to score goals.
“The girls played really hard and never gave up. That’s what we’ve been working on,” Yorktown coach Sylvia Guerrieri said. “Maybe we can play them again. My girls are aware of that.”
The Patriots struggled until late in the regular season, owning 2-7 and 3-9 records at different points, with many of those close losses. A 1-0 victory over rival Washington-Liberty in Yorktown’s final regular-season match gave the team momentum entering the postseason.
“The biggest change since the regular season was getting the girls to believe in themselves and the team,” Guerrieri said. “The talent has been there all season, and we never doubted their desire to win regardless of our regular season record. Each loss, especially in overtime, was more motivation to work harder and prove that we are a team that can win. Their work ethic, determination, and never-give-up attitude has been key factors to our success during playoffs.”
Before meeting Langley in the region final, Yorktown upset National District Tournament champion Marshall, 1-0, in the first round, then knocked off Westfield, the 2017 champion, 4-2 in the semifinals.
Against Marshall, Ellie Cowan scored the goal off a penalty-corner assist from Emily Stafford. Yorktown goalie Jesse Larson made three saves. In the win over Westfield, Larson made six saves. Katelyn Stafford, assisted by Tessa Dickens, and Ellie Cowan scored first-half goals. In the second half, Chloe Westhoff and Cowan scored.
The Patriots qualified for the region tournament by winning a consolation match over No. 2 seed Herndon in the Liberty District tourney, where they finished third with a 2-1 record as the No. 5 seed. Yorktown topped No. 4 seed South Lakes in the first round, then lost to champion Langley, 2-0, in the semifinals.