With a region title on the line and her Fairfax field hockey team battling Chantilly in a second overtime period, head coach Amber Beaudoin turned to a pair of media members on the sideline and cracked a joke.
“Is this exciting enough for you guys?”
Beaudoin carried herself with a cool calmness during a pressure-packed situation, but would later say she was “dying” on the inside. For the second straight season, the Rebels squandered a lead and went to overtime in the 6A North region final. In 2013, the result was a 2-1 loss to Westfield. On Thursday at Fairfax High School, the Rebels responded in championship fashion.
Senior captain Cori Black scored the game-winning goal with 4:40 remaining in double overtime, giving Fairfax a 2-1 victory over Chantilly and its first region championship since 1993.
“Right when I hit it,” Black said, “I felt like it was going to go in.”
Black’s goal put an end to a stressful 30 minutes for the Rebels.
Fairfax grabbed a 1-0 lead with 2:54 remaining in the first half when senior captain Meg Robertson scored on an assist from senior midfielder Trisha Le. The Rebels maintained their advantage until Chantilly senior captain Kelly Updike scored off a penalty corner with 4:27 remaining in regulation.
How would the Rebels handle adversity?
“This team plays off my energy,” Beaudoin. “I try to be very careful with how I react. … I was dying a little bit inside when they scored.”
After neither team scored in the closing minutes of regulation, Fairfax controlled the first overtime period, playing 7-on-6 for two minutes following a Chantilly green card, but failed to score. Le came close to ending it, but her shot hit the left post.
In the second overtime period, some nifty passing between Charlotte Duke and Le led to a penalty stroke after Chantilly goalkeeper Kyler Zampiello made contact with Le in front of the cage. Olivia Cummings attempted the stroke for Fairfax, but Zampiello moved to her left and made a game-saving pad save with 6:22 left on the clock.
“We had to stay positive,” Black said. “Our coach just told us, ‘We need this. We can’t let it happen again.’ We have this thing called ‘Unfinished Business,’ and that’s from last year, not winning regionals. So this year, we were saying our business is going to be finished.”
Less than two minutes after Fairfax failed to convert the penalty stroke, Black found the back of the cage, giving the Rebels their first region title in two decades.
“I’m kind of in shock right now,” Robertson said after the game. “I’ve been on this team four years, and I’ve made it to the regional semifinals every year. The last two we made it to this game, and to win this year is just incredible. To be with this team and to win is just unbelievable.”
Fairfax, making its second straight trip to the state tournament, will face the 6A South region runner-up in the semifinals at noon on Friday, Feb. 14 at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach. The Rebels are 20-3, have won 15 consecutive games --- including their sixth straight conference/district title --- and enter the state tournament as an experienced and confident group.
“Going to states two years in a row,” Le said, “we learned how to maximize our chances and play against good teams.”
Chantilly (15-4), which knocked off defending state champion Westfield in the region semifinals on Tuesday, will face the 6A South champion on Feb. 14 at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach.
*All-6A North Region Tournament Team: Meg Robertson (Fairfax); Claire Cooke (Woodson); Jessica Reeves (Chantilly); Emily McNamara (Westfield); Charlotte Duke (Fairfax); Sarah Horgan (Westfield); Taylor Stone (Herndon); Kyler Zampiello (Chantilly); Katie Cummings (South County); Sofia Palacios (Herndon); Emily Deivert (Fairfax); Jennifer McCann (Annandale); Julia Golden (Chantilly); Cori Black (Fairfax).