Girls win in memory of Coach Camp's father
POWHATAN - Up until the final 7 minutes, Hailey Camp had yet to score in Monday's Region 4B quarterfinals.
But when she did, it made all the difference.
The junior carried the ball down field and, seeing her shot, bounced it off the ground and into the netting to push her Powhatan Indians ahead for the thrilling 10-9 triumph over Midlothian.
Once the clock hit zero, Powhatan Girls Lacrosse's players stormed the field and gleefully celebrated the program's first-ever regional playoff victory while the coaches hugged near the sideline.
"It means that we've improved exponentially over the last four years," Powhatan head coach Laura Camp said. "The girls have grown in skill and confidence, and for them to have this win just tells us that we're on the right track, that the girls are truly working as a team and they did not give up the entire game. It was a very close game the entire time and they just were relentless in their fight to win this game."
The players and coaches not only won Monday's historical game for each other - they also won it for Coach Camp's dad, who passed away in March.
"He was a lacrosse player in college and was my biggest fan. He came to every one of my games in high school and college," Coach Camp said. "He loved getting updates on our high school team and loved how much we improved. The girls know how much he meant to me and we played this game for him."
Throughout the hard-fought contest, the Indians were connecting on their long passes and excelling at advancing the ball downfield. Freshman Jordan Krauss picked right up where she left off in the Indians' regular season finale against Clover Hill; after scoring 6 goals last Wednesday, Krauss found the net in a variety of ways to lead Powhatan with 5 in Monday's game.
Senior Nailah Bena-Chambers scored two goals: an early go-ahead and an insurance tally in the second half. Camp had the game-winner, Ashley Van Buskirk scored an early goal to tie the game, and multisport standout Michala Taylor had the goal to get her team on the scoreboard and tie it early. She also assisted her teammates on goals twice, while Krauss assisted Taylor.
Midlothian led early by one goal and immediately piled on the pressure afterward. But Powhatan goalie Emily Stephenson locked down the cage on multiple shots fired by the Trojans, and the Indians began pouncing on miscues that saw the ball get loose from the visitors.
Taylor weaved her way through the middle to launch the tying goal, then won the follow-up draw and passed the ball to Chambers, who put it through for the go-ahead tally.
Momentum shifted back and forth as Riley Martin and Blair Honrado grabbed Midlothian the lead on back-to-back goals, Van Buskirk and Krauss - on a shot in traffic - swung the pendulum back to Powhatan, and the Trojans struck back with the help of a go-ahead tally from Martin, who led Midlothian in the game on 3 goals.
Krauss knotted up the contest at 5-even before halftime on a goal off of a fast break, then completed a go-ahead tally from her position right in front of the cage.
Chambers scored the first insurance goal of the game on a shot that bounced into the net, and Krauss added a couple more on quick bursts off of penalty shots. The two teams went goal-for-goal up until the final 10 minutes, when Martin followed up a teammate's goal on a tying tally to make it 9-9.
But after Camp fired in the go-ahead, Stephenson made a huge save within the final minute, and the Indians grabbed hold of possession and kept it through the waning seconds. Stephenson made 19 saves, including 14 in the first half.
"Emily is fantastic. She is such a strong person on and off the field," Coach Camp said. "She did not crack - she is our only goalie, she plays every single game, all game long and she brings it every single game. For her to consistently have the number of saves she has a game - she's a huge asset to our team."
Powhatan (9-5) advances to the regional semifinals to play the winner of Monacan and Western Albemarle.
"They're all my favorite people. I just love each and every one of them," Camp added of her players. "They each bring a different dynamic to the team and their chemistry is off the charts. They work so well together and they truly like each other and...you can't replace that."