Before Westfield High School's 1-0 victory against Centreville High School in the Concorde District Championship on Oct. 22, Westfield head coach Terri Towle gave her team a pre-game history lesson.
"Ten years ago, one of our goals as a team was to get the ball across the mid-field line," Towle said. "For our team to come this far and have our goal be to win a district title, it's just a credit to all of the girls who have played here."
Towle said that many of the girls, members of a team that has had no problem working the ball down the field, couldn't believe her statements about their school's field hockey history.
"I'd tell the girls it's all in [the book], that's really how it was," Towle said. "My assistants would back me up and say, 'It’s all true'."
Now Towle can add another district title to her book after a thrilling 1-0 game that came down to the final minutes. And her players can rest easy knowing that they've helped write another chapter in that book.
The game's scoring started, and ended, with 7:08 left in the first half, when senior forward Molly Gift put in a shot off a passing play from Kelsey Grainer, the 2009 Concorde District Player of the Year.
"Kelsey Grainer had it and passed it diagonally to the right hand side of the goal," Gift said. "That's my favorite spot to shoot from. No one was on the far post and I aimed for the corners like coach tells us to do."
After Gift's goal, the Bulldogs’ stiff defense, which has not given up a goal since Oct. 1, sprung into action to defend the lead.
The Bulldogs’ defense frustrated Centreville's offense, but the Wildcats’ chance to tie the game came on a penalty stroke attempt by Haili Hartman with 6:30 left in the game.
Hartman stared down Westfield goalie Katie Fiely for a tense moment before ripping a shot wide of the goal.
"It was scary because I had [a penalty stroke] against Centreville in our last game," Fiely said. "I slid to get the ball, but I was so happy that it went wide."
After the failed penalty stroke, Hartman buried her face in her hands before springing back to continue the Wildcats attack.
"I knew where I wanted to put the ball, but it went a little too far left," Hartman said. "It just didn't go as I planned."
Centreville continued to pile on the pressure with three penalty corners in the final two minutes, but Fiely held her ground and turned away all seven shots the Wildcats took.
When the final whistle blew, a raucous Westfield fans rushed the field and surrounded their field hockey heroes.
"Our senior class of boys, we call them the 'dog pound', helped make the game more intense," Gift said.
The sight of stands filled with parents and students lined up against the field's fence also caught Towle’s attention.
"This is the most fans that some of these girls will ever play in front of," Towle said. "It's just a great experience. There were a lot of people talking about [this game]. It was the same for Centreville. They had a large group of fans here, too."
Although Centreville did not take home the district title, Centreville head coach Meg Doran was honored as the Concorde District Coach of the Year after leading the team to a 14-2 record.
Despite Centreville’s disappointing finish, Doran is looking forward to continuing the season in the Regional Tournament.
"Good athletes enjoy good competition, and we always enjoy playing Westfield," Doran said. "We're looking forward to the Regional Tournament so that our season doesn't have to end with a loss [in the District Tournament]."