In Amber Beaudoin’s mind, it was just a matter of time before her Fairfax High girls’ field hockey team broke a scoreless tie during the second half of the Rebels’ Liberty District tournament title game against underdog and No. 6-seed Langley on Thursday night, Oct. 22.
When Katie Rigotti sent a long, sizzling shot into the back of the goalie box from near the top of the scoring circle with about 16 minutes remaining in the second half, it looked as if Fairfax had, indeed, broken the scoring ice. However, a referee’s whistle had blown prior to the senior midfielder’s shot, indicating an offsides call, and the score did not count.
No fear. A few minutes later, Fairfax, which had been making hard rushes in the Langley scoring area throughout most of the second half, scored what proved to be the game-winner when senior forward Bailey McDade deflected teammate Taylor Deivert’s free hit from the outside into the goal. That score, which came with 13 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in regulation, was the lone goal of the game in the Rebels’ 1-0 championship triumph.
The postseason contest took place on a pleasant fall evening on Madison High’s turf field in Vienna.
Deivert was credited with the assist on the game-winner. McDade, positioned around the goal area, was in the right place at the right time.
"Bailey’s goal was beautiful," said Beaudoin. "Every time we get the ball in the circle I think we have a good chance of scoring."
The coach credited Rigotti, the defender/midfielder whose earlier score had been disallowed, with setting the game’s tone in which Fairfax got the best of the play in the second 30 minutes.
"We got her going," said Beaudoin, of Rigotti. "She really controlled the pace of the game and really makes her teammates shine."
The district title was the first for Fairfax since 1997. The top-seeded Rebels, two days earlier, had beaten No. 4 McLean, 4-0, in a semifinals round game following a round one bye.
Now, with the district championship under its belt, Fairfax (13-5) is set to host Lake Braddock in a first round Northern Region playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 4:30 p.m. Langley, meanwhile, will be home against T.C. Williams on Tuesday at 4 p.m., in another first round affair of the 16-team regionals.
WHILE PERHAPS getting the better of play against Langley, Fairfax hardly had an easy time of it. The Saxons made several runs at the net throughout the night and had seven corner chances. Two of those corners came in the final four minutes. But Fairfax’s defense was able to keep Langley from scoring. Rebels’ senior goalie Megan Monter, who received a loud, heartfelt ovation from the Fairfax faithful during postgame ceremonies, played an outstanding game.
Langley goalie Natasha Constantine played an exceptional game as well, holding a prolific Rebels’ offense to just the one score. Fairfax earned seven corner chances in the game.
Saxons’ head coach Jennifer Robb, whose team upset both No. 3 Marshall and No. 2 Madison to make it to the finals, said her team just could not cash in on its chances in the championship encounter against Fairfax.
"I thought the game was pretty even, both teams had opportunities," said Robb. "We didn’t get the ball in the back of the net. Both teams played really well. They did a nice job getting to the ball and out-muscling us. Our goalie played great and our defense stepped up."
Langley was just 2-4 in district play during the regular season. But one of its wins came over Fairfax, 2-1. "There are a lot of great teams in the district," said Robb.
Langley senior midfielder/forward Brenna Hill said the title game loss to Fairfax, while it hurt a bit, is hardly a deflator for a Langley team that shocked the district just by getting to the finals.
"We worked really hard to get here and showed a lot of team work," said Hill. "We got better as the season went on. I know we’re excited to host a region game on our home field."