Indians edge Cosby in shootouts, show strong defense in narrow 1-0 loss to Midlothian

There are multiple strong teams to look up to in the Dominion District.

Last year, James River reached the regional semifinals. Both Cosby and Midlothian reached their respective state tournaments. Midlothian won its way into the state semifinals.

Right away, Powhatan’s showing itself to be among those strong teams.

The Indians made a statement in their 2019 season-opener - also Powhatan Field Hockey’s first game ever as a member of the Dominion District – with a thrilling 2-1 triumph on the road over Cosby in shootouts on Monday, Aug. 26.

Their win wasn’t just a statement maker – it was also a notable improvement over Powhatan’s first time ever meeting Cosby on the field hockey grid in 2018, when the Titans won 3-0.

“It was definitely special to beat Cosby in our first game of the season and the first game as a member of the Dominion District,” said Powhatan head coach Stephanie Tyson. “Cosby is always a team that makes it to the regional finals and state games. They have made a name for themselves as one of the top programs in the Dominion District and in the Richmond area. It was such a fun game to coach and be a part of.”

Tyson pointed to how hard both teams worked through regulation time, sudden death overtime and then the second level beyond regulation: shootouts.

“It was big for many reasons, but I think in moving forward, this will help our confidence in knowing that we can be competitive and play with all of the teams in this new district,” Tyson said. “I am not sure if people really know how difficult the Jefferson District is as far as field hockey. But I think playing in that district and facing [high-quality] field hockey programs has helped us immensely.

“We could not take winning any of our games for granted and we knew it was always going to be a fight,” Tyson said. “I think that has helped to prepare us for the district we are in now.”

After Cosby scored first, junior Hanna Hathaway sent in a crucial short-corner goal that enabled Powhatan to tie Cosby 1-1 and helped set up the eventual overtime situations. Hathaway had inserted the ball to Michala Taylor before receiving the pass; Tyson said Hathaway “was at the right place at the right time. “

“She really does have a knack for that-anytime the ball is in the circle. She fought extremely hard to get to the ball and shoot. She definitely deserved to score that goal,” Tyson said, adding that Hathaway “had an outstanding game from start to finish.”

“Her stickwork was amazing and she frustrated more than one Cosby player. She worked very hard and it was obvious that she simply did not want to lose,” Tyson said. “It was one of the best games I have seen her play and I am really looking forward to seeing her play the rest of this season.”

When the game did extend beyond regulation and even into the penalty shootouts, Tyson pointed out how the players did not skip a beat.

“I am sure they did think back to the three shootouts we were in last season,” she said, “and I think the experience of that helped.”

In a nailbiting round of shootouts, Kaitlin Thompson, the third player up for Powhatan, scored a goal to get her team the lead first.

Cosby responded right after to tie the stretch 1-1.

And then, with the stage coming down to the fifth and final players in the order, Ryann Overboe scored to help Powhatan win the thriller.

“They were ready – way more comfortable than we expected,” Tyson said of her players in the shootout situation. “Once we got past regulation time and OT, I told them to have fun. And I really think that’s exactly what they did.”

The other side of the shootouts for Powhatan was keeper Emily Stephenson, who was phenomenal in goal, her head coach said.

“She made four huge saves and owned it. Cosby had the first chance and she came up with a big stop. In my opinion, that helped the entire team’s confidence in moving forward with the shootout,” Tyson said of Stephenson. “I was extremely proud of the way she handled herself and so happy for her.”

Seniors Overboe, Taylor, Ella Weber and Erin Barney all stepped up big-time for the Indians, said Tyson, who added that freshman Lexie Campbell played in her first varsity game ever and made a huge impact when it came to creating opportunities on offense.

“I am looking forward to what the future holds for her,” Tyson said of Campbell.

Two days later, Powhatan – bolstered by a stonewalling defensive effort – kept Midlothian off the scoreboard until the 18:58 mark of the second half, when Hayden Strausburg scored to help her Trojans narrowly win 1-0.

“Ella Weber, Alicia Dern, Catherine Griffith and Emily Stephenson kept us in the game. It was great to see them step up and I think we can really build on what we saw,” Tyson said. “I thought coming into this year that we would be solid due to the number of seniors we have and they proved it last night.”

Holding a tough Midlothian team to one goal for a whole 60-minute game helped Dern feel reassured about how the Indians have been practicing, conditioning and playing, and Weber pointed to how they were able to keep the Trojans from scoring on any of their nine corners.

“From us being able to play such a difficult game with Cosby – the entire game, plus 15 minutes over, and then going into a shootout – being able to recover over just a day and coming back and playing Midlo, and them only scoring one on us, I think that’s pretty huge for Powhatan this year,” Stephenson added.

“I think this season’s going to go really well for us – I feel like the rest of the Dominion District knows we’re a contender now,” Dern said Aug. 28. “I think now they can see: we’re here to fight and actually play with them.”

Stephenson had eight saves on Wednesday to go along with her standout effort on Monday.

She emphasized her teammates around her.

“Defense was really saving me tonight,” Stephenson said. “I feel like we’ve gotten a lot better with communication.”

Tyson added that Weber on defense has impressed her since they started this summer.

“She has a confidence and swag on defense this year,” Tyson said. “She is also doing a great job as one of the leaders on this team, coming to practice and working hard every single day.”

The Indians did have some struggles they’ll look to learn from on Wednesday.

“We came out very flat and played that way throughout the first half,” Tyson said. “They were winning almost all of the 50/50 balls and we were pretty lucky to go into halftime tied. We talked about that and changed a few things and came out much better in the second half. The fact that we fought all the way until the end and it was 1-0 was very positive for us.

“I knew this would be an extremely tough week and that it is going to take some time for this team to get into the groove of things,” Tyson said. “We have a few days to work on some things in practice before we play Bird and Fluvanna next week. We are taking it one game at a time and hoping to improve a little each game so that we are at our peak by regionals!”

Weber, Dern and Stephenson all pointed to how well everyone on Powhatan’s team is playing and working together right now, and Tyson emphasized the bond that her team shares.

“They really do just build each other up, work hard and do exactly what we ask of them. They have been working hard all summer and it was a great reward,” Tyson said of the win versus Cosby. “I am extremely proud of every single one of them.”

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