Orange field hockey tops Albemarle for Conference 16 title

Albemarle needed just one goal to keep its season alive as it edged Patrick Henry in the Conference 16 tournament semifinals. The Patriots once again took a 1-0 lead on the road, this time against Orange County which had a bye coming into the championship game. But the Hornets found a way to bounce back, and bounce back strong with three straight goals to move on to the Division 5A North Region tournament.

“We’ve played from behind before and obviously it’s not what we’d like to do,” said Orange coach Trish Grabeel. “But we’ve been there and the kids have really turned around an entire season and I mean that not from just this August, but from last August. Two years ago we took on the chin just about every single time. So now when their back is against the wall, they’ve been there, they have the confidence. Now we have the finesse, the skill and we can get it done.”

Ten minutes into the contest, Elisabeth White put Albemarle out front. And the Patriots had their moments, mostly late in the second half, but the day belonged to Orange as it’s pressure put Albemarle in a tough spot.

Six minutes after White’s goal, the Hornets evened up the  score on an Anna Bosworth goal. With just under five minutes until the half, Orange’s aggressive attack on offense came up with the key moment it needed, a goal from Jamie Barr on a pass from Kassidy Marshall.

“We just wanted it and coming back from (our experience the last two years) it just felt good winning games, we pushed through it.” Barr said. “We were all jumbled up in the circle and I just took the ball and pushed through everyone.”

The Hornets continued to apply pressue out of the gate in the second half and were rewarded with a much needed insurance goal from Marshall on a pass from Gena Shifflett with 17 minutes to play. After that, Orange played it safe defensively, while also keeping Albemarle at bay with yellow cards earned on fast breaks.

The Patriots offense got going again with 10 minutes to go, and with goalkeeper Emily Johnson making some incredibly athletic plays, was able to keep the Hornets at bay the rest of the way through. But the Orange defense also stood stall and as a result, the Patriots season came to an end.

“Early on we worked as a team, getting some one touches and working inside,” said Ablemarle coach Jenn Martinelli. “Emily Johnson was very impressive. She’s a great athlete and she makes great reads and has picked it up on communication with that back end defense. Every single game we got better. Our seniors did a great job with a solid foundation to work from. We’ll just keep working on the fundamentals. I think we had more fun as the season went on, things were physical earyl one but I really like that we improved each game from the next.”

Orange moves on to face Deep Run on Monday at 4:30 p.m. in the 5A North Region tourney while Albemarle’s season ends.