Earlier this fall, the Clarksburg Coyotes’ varsity field hockey team had a record-setting undefeated regular season and won its second consecutive regional championship, earning its second straight berth into the state semifinals.
Despite falling 4-0 to two-time defending state champion South River in this year’s MPSSAA 4A Field Hockey Tournament at Paint Branch High School Monday evening, the Coyotes still have a lot to be proud of.
“That’s the greatest thing in the world, to be able to know that you have gone through Montgomery County 12-0, [and] you get to the state semis back-to-back years,” head coach Sissy Natoli said. “It’s just been a great ride, and I’ve got great kids that embrace every moment of it.”
Clarksburg (15-1) broke numerous program records this fall, logging 61 goals, 64 assists and 12 shutouts en route to its first undefeated regular season in program history.
The Coyotes faced a ton of defensive pressure from the Seahawks (13-3) from the opening whistle, as they struggled to clear the ball out of their defensive zone on numerous occasions.
South River attempted four shots and had four corners in the first half, sometimes missing the Clarksburg goal by mere inches. Clarksburg wasn’t able to attempt a single shot and only managed two corners in the first 30 minutes.
Senior goalkeeper Jamie Fritz made saves on each of the Seahawks’ three shots on goal to keep things scoreless heading into the second half.
It didn’t take long for South River to finally break through the Clarksburg defense once the second half began, as senior attacker Alexis Seidel scored less than a minute and a half after play resumed.
“They picked up momentum, and we were trying to change our formation to adjust to the momentum that they picked up,” Natoli said.
The Coyotes had some offensive looks throughout the half with two shots on goal and two corners, but weren’t able to maintain possession long enough near the Seahawks’ goal to capitalize on any of those opportunities.
South River added a second goal just before the midpoint of the half, with senior midfielder Darcy Clement scoring on an assist by senior midfielder/defender McKenzie Jamison.
A solo goal by junior attacker Tommi Bresnahan with just over five minutes to play and Seidel’s second goal from Jamison’s second assist with only eight seconds remaining eventually gave the Seahawks the 4-0 win and a chance to play for their third straight state championship title.
“I thought we battled really well in the first half,” Natoli said. “In the second half, instead of attacking, I felt like we were recovering. We recovered too close to their goal, and it allowed too many of our players to be in the way for us to clear the ball out. They kept on getting offensive opportunities in our deep third.”
South River finished with 13 shots, putting 11 of those shots on goal, as well as 10 corners. Clarksburg, by comparison, had two shots, both on goal, and only four corners.
“The nicest thing about being here for the second time [is that] the kids weren’t as nervous,” Natoli said. “I felt like we did some really great things the first half, [but] we just didn’t carry it over enough in the second half. The more you’re here, the less nervous you get, and then their true performance comes out.”
Senior midfielder Anna Bertrand, who finishes the season as the Coyotes’ all-time leader in goals and assists, was double-covered for much of Monday’s semifinal, along with fellow captain and senior attacker Charlotte Pond.
Even if Clarksburg didn’t go as far as it wanted to in the state tournament this year, Natoli had nothing but praise for her team, as well as the leadership skills of Bertrand, Pond, senior midfielder Rachel Oh and junior defender Joanna Yoo as this year’s team captains.
“We just have four good leaders, and when you have leaders, things come together,” she said. “They came together great for us this season.”
Top: Clarskburg captain, senior Charlotte Pond (9) readies to play defense against South River’s Meagan Quick (26)
Next: The Lady Coyotes pause to prep during a timeout.
Next: Junior forward Angie Brown (2) in a defensive stance.
Next: Clarksburg sophomore Kyra Bencal (14) prepares for a restart.
Photos by Germantown Pulse