Another field hockey title on the line, another Cox-First Colonial battle.
The two powerhouse clubs will meet for the third time this season — and the seventh time in two years — for the 6A South Region crown at 3 p.m. Friday at the National Training Center.
Last year, First Colonial won the lone regular season match before Cox took the next three meetings, all of them title games: the Coastal Conference final, the 6A South Region final and the 6A state final.
This season, through two meetings, the script has been flipped.
The Falcons upended the Patriots in the regular season, 3-2 in overtime, but the Patriots won 1-0 in last week’s Coastal Conference title game.
“The team that handles the pressure is the team that’s successful,” Cox coach Julie Swain said Thursday. “It’s about taking advantages of opportunities when we have them. In our previous two games, both teams had (opportunities), and the game was decided on who took advantage of them. … I have a feeling it will be another close battle.”
Each of the past four meetings, including playoffs, have been decided by one goal.
When the two teams are not playing each other, they dominate the competition.
In the Falcons’ three playoff games against teams not named the Patriots, they’ve outscored their opponents 19-0. The Patriots’ differential during that span is 16-1.
Patriots midfielder Haley Schleicher is one of the state’s most lethal offensive threats, while teammate Marlee McClendon is one of the area’s toughest defenders.
The Falcons unleash a versatile offense led by Alexis Gingerich, Alex Brewer, Leah Crouse and Cassidy Atchison.
While both teams have already clinched a spot in the 6A state tournament — that begins Nov. 13 at the National Training Center — Swain says the outcome in regional play still matters.
The 6A South Region winner will play the 6A North Region runner-up — either Westfield or T.C Williams — in the state semifinals.
“It does matter who we play next Friday,” Swain said. “It certainly makes the path to the championship a little easier. We all know the importance of the game. All of these details matter. Everything matters. That’s a motto we have.”
If the past two seasons are any indication, Friday may not be the last time First Colonial and Cox square off this fall.