A visibly excited Serenna Schantz ran into the goal and retrieved the ball, elated that her second goal of the night gave the Mount Vernon field hockey team the lead against Edison midway through the first half of Monday’s National District championship game. But 45 minutes later, when the Majors’ one-goal advantage proved enough to win, the ensuing team celebration had more of a business feel to it.
After all, Mount Vernon had been here before.
The second-seeded Majors repeated as district champions on Oct. 25 with a 2-1 victory over No. 5 Edison at MVHS. Mount Vernon reached the title game by beating No. 7 Falls Church 2-0 in the opening round on Oct. 19 and No. 3 Washington-Lee 1-0 in the semifinals on Oct. 21.
Last season, Mount Vernon was a mixture of youth and experience. Five seniors earned first- or second-team all-district honors, but the team’s leading goal scorer was sophomore Allie Schray. When the Majors defeated Washington-Lee in the title game, players were overcome with emotion and head coach Jessica Hebel celebrated with a leap of joy.
This season, Mount Vernon has only three seniors on the team. While the roster changed, so did expectations — at least for some of the Majors.
"I think it’s a different feeling because last year, it was brand new to all of us," Hebel said. "We hadn’t won the year before. … It’s just a different feeling, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. … Last year, coming into the season, we were hoping to perform well in our district. This year, we were expecting ourselves to do that — our goal was beyond that. This was on our to-do list."
Not everyone felt that way, at first. Hebel said she was among the minority with initial high expectations for 2010. The rest of the team had to work to get there.
"We lost 14 seniors, so this year we thought it was kind of a rebuilding year, but it didn’t turn out that way," said Schantz, a first-team all-district selection and two-year varsity athlete. "It turned out more than we expected it to be. We’re dedicated [and] we love to play. We come out here every day for practice and we work our butts off to make the results and get stronger."
Schantz is listed as a defender but Hebel said she moved the sophomore up the field to get more scoring opportunities. Schantz’s second goal against Edison came from a difficult angle. Schantz sprinted to her right, chased down the ball near the end line and smacked it to her left, beating the Edison goalkeeper.
"It felt really good," she said.
Joining Schantz on the all-district first team from Mount Vernon is junior forward Schray and sophomore midfielder Jane Heller. Sophomores Ashleigh Sable (midfielder), Megan Cole (defender) and Sabrina Smith (midfielder) received second-team honors and junior forward Bailey Braun and sophomore forwards Tamara Warren and Gabby Ocker received honorable mention.