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Northern Region field hockey final set

Erica Binzer had practiced shots like this since the beginning of August, so when she was awarded a penalty stroke less than three minutes into overtime during her South County field hockey team’s region semifinal contest Tuesday night against Fairfax, Binzer knew that simplicity would be best.

After pausing to clear her head, Binzer lifted a shot into the top left of the cage, setting off a wild celebration and inking a 3-2 win for the Stallions. It also earned a Northern Region title game berth for No. 8 South County on Thursday night against W.T. Woodson, which will be held at Oakton. Start time is 7 p.m.

“I just didn’t think about it and it went in,” Binzer said of the successful penalty stroke.

Binzer’s goal was needed because Fairfax’s Tiffany Balbuena converted a feed from Katie Rigotti with six-and-a-half minutes left in regulation, tying the score at 2. From there, South County (17-5) forced the issue and Binzer was awarded the penalty stroke after Megan Wears was stopped on the Stallions’ 11th penalty corner of the game.

“We were just thinking, we needed to do this,” Binzer said. “We needed to get that ball in.”

Wears scored on a perfectly executed one-time pass from Maddy Tettelbach early in the first half, but Bailey McDade of Fairfax (15-6) answered a few minutes later thanks to another assist from Rigotti. In the second half, Alyssa Bianco converted a Caitlyn Kost lead pass from the left of the cage before Balbuena tied it.

In the first semifinal contest, W.T. Woodson (20-2) earned a 1-0 win over Oakton (10-11), ending the Cougars’ Cinderella-type run through the tournament when Shelly Montgomery scored on a penalty corner with 7 minutes 41 seconds left in the game.

Stationed to the right of the cage, Montgomery saw the ball at her feet, regrouped and blasted a shot that beat Oakton’s goalkeeper. Montgomery, who wears No. 14, scored on the Cavaliers’ 14th shot and 14th corner attempt.

“[Teammate Leah Williamson] topped the ball, and I have this almost animal-like mindset where I’m just thinking, ‘goal, goal, goal,’” Montgomery said.

W.T. Woodson and South County have a bit of a history. The Cavaliers won the regular season meeting between the two, 1-0, on Oct. 2. Then, in the Patriot District final, South County upset W.T. Woodson, 2-0, behind goals from Binzer and Wears.

The two teams will meet for Round 3 on Thursday night at Oakton High School, and there’s certainly no shortage of anticipation for that matchup from either side.

“Since we’ve already played each other, we know it’s going to be a really good game,” Binzer said. “We just have to focus on what we have to do.”

By Jason Mackey  |  November 4, 2009; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , Field Hockey , Northern Region , Oakton , South County , W.T. Woodson  
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