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Jefferson Field Hockey Blasts Past Langley

After having a goal disallowed with 18 minutes 27 seconds left in the first half during a game at Langley on Thursday afternoon, the Jefferson field hockey team could have folded. But instead, when it was ruled the ball deflected off of a Langley player from outside the circle, Jefferson regrouped and turned a non-goal into a non-factor.

Hope Smith, the Colonials’ senior center back, blasted a shot a little less than six minutes later from the top of the circle past Langley goalkeeper Natasha Constantine and into the back of the cage for the only scoring necessary in a 1-0 win.

As someone who’s generally counted upon to take free hits and keep danger away from the team’s goal, Smith possesses a very strong shot. And on this occasion, she really uncorked one. It was interesting to hear her explain what she’s thinking before taking shots such as these, so I’ll let her take it away.

“I normally look for holes between people, and if there are no holes, I just hit it as hard as I can,” Smith said. “Normally it will either go through their sticks or their feet or something.”

So, to me, that begs the question: Which one was it against Langley?

“I just hit it today and it found its way through,” she said. “I just hit it as hard as I could.”

The win, which was Jefferson’s 10th of the season, helped the team improve to 2-1 against Liberty District opponents ahead of next Tuesday’s game at Fairfax (7-4, 1-1 Liberty). Langley, meanwhile, dropped to 5-5 overall, 1-1 in district play and will travel to Madison on Tuesday.

This game, though, meant something more than just your average district contest. Two years ago, Langley played W.T. Woodson in the Northern Region championship and was widely viewed as one of the area’s most dominant teams, carrying a 17-game winning streak into the region final, which ended in a 2-1 W.T. Woodson win.

That’s not to say Langley still isn’t a very good team as the Saxons certainly are, but I think it’s interesting teams such as Jefferson have crept into the mix as well. A year ago, Jefferson finished 9-11 and lost in the first round of the Liberty District tournament to Marshall.

“It’s exciting,” said Jefferson Coach Teri Davis of the turnaround, who’s in her 27th year on the sidelines. “We still have a long way to go, and we’re not predicting the future yet, just chipping away a little bit at a time.”

Davis used three players to provide a tangible explanation of why there’s been such a change this season. In addition to Smith, Davis called junior forward Allison Smedberg the team’s offensive “catalyst” and also praised the work of senior goalkeeper Katie Martinez.

In the last two minutes of each half against Langley, Martinez faced a flurry of shots. She made four key saves at the end of regulation and a key stop to her right on Langley’s Emily Knapp at the end of the first half.

Langley, which lost 13 players from that 2007 team, was basically forced to start from scratch last season and finished sixth in the district during the regular season. With the majority of those players back on the team this season, Year 2 of the Langley rebuilding process has gone well, Saxons Coach Jennifer Robb said.

“We’re much stronger than we were last year,” Robb said. “We have a much better passing game than we had last year. We’re much stronger as a team than we were last year. But still, I have several sophomores and juniors in big roles on my team that are doing a lot.

“We’re still working to make sure we’re the team we were a couple years ago. There’s a little bit of a cycle there, but we’re back on target.”

By Jason Mackey  |  October 2, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  AAA Liberty District , Fairfax , Field Hockey , Langley  
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