Leading the Frank W. Cox transition offense into First Colonial territory in overtime of a highly anticipated field hockey match Thursday, Alexis Gingerich’s eyes widened when she approached the 25-yard line and saw Marlee McClendon waiting.
The Falcons junior forward got excited. She was about to square off with not only the Patriots’ top defender, but also her future Old Dominion University teammate.
“I just wanted to beat her so bad,” Gingerich said. “Our future coach (Andrew Griffiths) was watching.”
Gingerich beat McClendon off the line but was forced into a tough shooting zone. Without hesitation, Gingerich rifled a shot through a crowded circle that found its way into the far right side of the net.
Gingerich’s second goal of the day ended the 3-2 overtime thriller at the National Training Center, handing the Coastal Conference rival Patriots (11-1) their first loss of the season.
“It wasn’t drawn up,” Falcons coach Julie Swain said of the final play. “We’ve been working on quick shots and taking the opportunity when you have it, and that’s what she did.”
The Falcons (11-1) trailed 1-0 after the first half and battled twice from one-goal deficits in the second half.
Gingerich’s first goal with 11:21 left in the second half was the 2-2 equalizer that sent the match into overtime, after both teams failed to capitalize on opportunities down the stretch of regulation.
Cassidy Atchison scored the Falcons’ first goal four minutes into the second half to even the score at 1-1.
“We’re a team that once we get down, we always come back,” Gingerich said. “We knew today would be one of those battles.”
Senior midfielder Haley Schleicher carried the Patriots offense, scoring both goals.
The standout Duke University commit capitalized on a corner 12 minutes into the first half, and she dazzled with a nifty score that put the Patriots up 2-1 with 17 minutes left in regulation.
“It’s such a great local rivalry,” Gingerich said. “You don’t get this anywhere else.”
Thursday’s showcase between the two 6A powerhouses was likely a precursor.
Last season, the Patriots and Falcons met four times. First Colonial won the first regular season meeting, and Cox swept the next three, including the state final (1-0).
“We’re going to get right back to work,” Swain said. “I’m sure we’ll see them again.”