Megan Wears isn't exactly sure how fast her field hockey shot is, but judging by the crowd's reaction at the Bulldog Invitational Field Hockey Tournament on Aug. 28 and 29, it might be clocked somewhere between ooh and ah.
Wears, a senior at South County Secondary School, spent much of the tournament at Westfield High School slamming shots at goaltenders, threatening to score or to leave a nasty bruise on those who dared to stand in the way.
"I'm not really sure how fast [my shot] can go," she said. "A lot of us can hit hard, but I've never had it [measured.]"
With each shot Wears took, fans from both teams marveled at how fast the ball was hit and at the loud thud that resounded throughout the field.
The Stallions looked to Wears to unleash her shot using a set play in which the ball is passed to a teammate and then set up for Wears. During the Stallions' match with tournament favorite Westfield, she announced her presence when she put a shot past the Westfield goalie early in the game.
"We used her [shot] because it was working," said South County Head Coach Leah Conte. "We have many girls who can hit the ball hard, but it was just working for her so we used her [for the penalty corner shots]."
Wears’ smashing shot also help upset Westfield 2-1 on the final play of the game.
WITH TIME expired and the score deadlocked at 1-1, an opportunity arose to finish the game and avert an overtime period with a penalty corner that was awarded as time expired.
"When there is a corner called at the end of the game with time expired, you play the corner out until there is a penalty or the ball leaves the circle," Conte said. "If we had committed a penalty or the ball had left [the circle], we would have gone to overtime."
With literally no time left, Wears smashed another shot at the goal that was deflected to the ground by a Westfield defender and then tipped in by teammate Erica Binzer, upsetting the Bulldogs in the semifinals.
"We did a great job of executing [that corner]," Wears said. "[Westfield] was really controlling the second half, so it felt nice that we didn't have to go into overtime."
The clutch play at the end of the game wasn't a fluke, Wears said the team regularly prepares for the situation.
"We always practice crashing the cage," Wears said. "Erika was able to tip it in. We just go over that stuff a lot [in practice]."
SOUTH COUNTY’S victory marked the first time Westfield had failed to reach the finals in the tournament's five-year history.
Although the Stallions managed to defeat a tough Westfield team, Conte said that the team was far from perfect.
"We did a lot of little things that we need to work on for the next couple of weeks," she said. "We need to get focused on the little things like pressing the ball on defense, faking on free hits and finishing corners."
South County finished the tournament as the runner up, losing to West Springfield High School 1-0 in a weather-shortened championship game. The Stallions start the season with a 3-1 record with wins against Thomas Jefferson High School, Washington and Lee High School and Westfield.
Hayfield Secondary School's team continued its learning experience as a team at the Bulldog Invitational. Although the team did not compete in the tournament round of the competition, Head Coach Lauren White said the team is improving.
"It's getting better," she said. "We still made a few mistakes on defense. Our passing was better, we were working it up the field easier. We're definitely going to have to step it up for our [district games]."