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North Stafford field hockey wins Commonwealth

Fifty-nine minutes into the Commonwealth District field hockey final between North Stafford and host Riverbend on Friday afternoon, it appeared as if a 7-on-7 overtime session was inevitable.

Both teams were playing with a lot emotion -- courtesy of a pair of semifinal upsets over top seed Mountain View and second-seeded Stafford on Thursday. Both teams were diving for balls and generating scoring chances.

None of the opportunities counted, however, until North Stafford sophomore Alexis Shenkle deflected a shot from teammate Callie Wetzelberger with 33 seconds left before the end of regulation, pushing the Wolverines to a 1-0 victory.

“We’ve been working on deflections at practice and once [Wetzelberger] hit it in, I had to [score],” Shenkle said. “It bounced off the goalie and I hit it in.”

North Stafford Coach Laura Cwick said her team is finally starting to understand some of those iterations at practice.

“I try to tell my post players, ‘Keep your feet moving. Keep your stick down because all you have to do is sweep it in,’” said Cwick, whose team improved to 10-7 with the win. “I think the light bulb finally went on.”

Both Riverbend and North Stafford, along with regular season district champion Mountain View, will advance to next week’s region tournament for which a bracket has not yet been released.

Neither North Stafford nor Riverbend were expected to reach this point. However, with goals from Wetzelberger and Sydney Melillo, North Stafford knocked off Mountain View, 2-1, which finished 13-1 against district foes this season. The Wolverines posted a quarterfinal win over Albemarle.

Riverbend was able to beat Stafford, 3-1, punching its ticket to the title game. Three different players scored for the Bears in that game, including goals from Fleet Kirchmier, Bella Liccriadello and Olivia Schulte. The Bears beat Colonial Forge in the quarterfinals.

Bears Coach Lisa Brown, while disappointed, relished the opportunity for her team to play in a district title game; it's something, she said, the program had never done and something at the beginning of the week her team wasn’t even expecting to do.

“This was extra,” said Brown, whose team improved to 17-5 this season. “Our goal was to qualify for regionals. We didn’t really talk about the championship game, but because of their hard work this is something else that they earned.”

Because of Shenkle’s goal, which came on North Stafford’s fifth shot and ninth penalty corner, the Wolverines were able to ride the bus home Friday night with an unexpected district trophy.

“I think both teams, after Thursday’s games, played so hard,” Cwick said. “I think we all might not have had our legs underneath us today, but it came down to heart for both teams. They both wanted it. We just got a good goal. We finally got a good goal.”

By Jason Mackey  |  October 30, 2009; 6:40 PM ET
Categories:  Field Hockey , North Stafford , Northwest Region , Riverbend  
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