Entering Friday’s 6A South Region final at the National Training Center, Cox field hockey coach Julie Swain emphasized the importance of finishing opportunities against an evenly matched First Colonial crew.
With the game tied at 1-1 four minutes into a sudden-death 7-on-7 overtime, Falcons senior Alex Brewer streaked down the middle of the field.
Only Patriots goalie Kimi Jones stood between her and the net.
After Brewer made a nifty move to the left, Jones laid out to her right and made a highlight-reel save. The ball was knocked out of bounds, and so was a golden Falcons opportunity.
“I was like, I had to go get it back,” Brewer said of the play. “I can’t lose this. This means so much to me.”
On the following Falcons side-out possession, Brewer wouldn’t let another opportunity slip away.
Cox forced the ball into a crowded circle in front of the net. The Falcons’ Cameron Felch tapped the ball to Brewer on the left side, and Brewer squeezed a shot past Jones for the victory.
“It just happened,” Brewer said of the game-winner. “We were scrapping in the circle and we connected. It felt great, just great.”
The Falcons took the season’s rubber game 2-1, earning the 6A South Region crown and clinching the No. 1 seed in the state tournament.
“She’s our senior captain,” Swain said of Brewer’s heroics. “She has experience. She has speed. We talked about when you have those opportunities, you have to finish. And she did.”
This was Cox’s second overtime win over First Colonial this season. The first came in their lone regular season matchup. They also played in the conference championship, which First Colonial won 1-0.
Like their previous two meetings, Friday’s match lived up to its hype.
Cox took a 1-0 lead with 6:27 left in the first half when Phoebe Large scored an unassisted goal following the Falcons’ first corner opportunity.
The Patriots couldn’t capitalize on multiple scoring chances and trailed 1-0 at halftime despite out-shooting the Falcons 6-5.
Cox opened the second half with three missed corner opportunities, and First Colonial went on the offensive. The Patriots drew the next four corners and threatened but couldn’t finish.
The Patriots lost their best offensive player, standout senior Haley Schleicher, for two minutes to a green card penalty with 5:26 remaining.
Cox’s defense was pressing and time was running out for First Colonial until Cameron Strickland took control and snuck an unassisted goal past Falcons goalie Maddy Arndt. That evened the game 1-1 with 3:26 left.
“I noticed the attitude on their faces,” Swain said of her players after giving up the equalizer. “I said, ‘You gotta get right back in this game. You’re right in this. We gotta keep fighting.’ ”
Her Falcons did.
The game played out as tightly matched as expected. The Patriots drew seven corner opportunities to the Falcons’ five. First Colonial created 15 shots on goal; Cox had 12.
“I think both teams are recognizing strengths,” Swain said after the game. “It’s just a chess match, really.”
The teams could meet yet again.
Both clubs will play in the 6A state semifinals at 10 a.m. on Nov. 13 at the National Training Center. Cox will play 6A North runner-up T.C. Williams at field No. 2, while First Colonial will play 6A North champion Westfield at field No. 1.
A win for both Beach teams will set up another rivalry date in the state final for the second year in a row.
“(The win) is great but we can’t let it get to our heads,” Brewer said. “We are going to keep working because we have to. … We’ll probably see them again, hopefully. “