Eight W C Eagles teams traveled to Richmond to play in the USA Field Hockey National Indoor Tournament and five came home NIT Pool Champions – remarkably, the only club to win more that one Pool.
Our 1st team won the coveted Pool A Championship for the 3rd time in 4 years and were also the highest scoring team in the tournament with 35 goals, with our 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 8th teams all bringing home gold medals from their respective Pools in what was an extremely competitive tournament featuring many close games.
Playing the top U19 teams in the country the WC Eagles 1st team started strong with a 7-1 win over Mystx then struggled to find their scoring touch in a 3-3 draw with Maine Majestix on Friday evening. Saturday’s schedule featured three strong Pennsylvania opponents – after opening with quick early goals to clinch a 3-1 victory over Key State, the attention turned to strong local rivals Xcalibur. The huge crowd was not to be disappointed as an enthralling, highly skilled, tactical game ensued. A penalty corner by Katie O’Donnell opened the scoring only to be matched by Xcalibur, Katie fired in another penalty corner to put WC Eagles back in the lead. Montana Fleming was extremely unlucky to have a neat deflection over the goalkeeper, which would have given us a 3-1 lead, disallowed before Xcalibur scored after a goalmouth scramble in the closing minutes to tie the game 2-2. In the final game of the day the team played exceptionally well to break True North’s difficult press and run away with a 6-1 victory. And so to Sunday with still everything to play for – while WC Eagles was dispatching the ever improving Windy City (Chicago) 5-0, True North Upset Xcalibur 2-1 on the adjacent court to put WC Eagles on top of the Pool standings with just one game to play against the Saints (VA). WC Eagles left nothing to chance, defeating the Saints 9-1, to be crowned the USA Field Hockey National Indoor U19 A Pool Champions.
The 2nd Team, WC Eagles Gold, lead by the talented Jessica Unger, won their first six games against, Cape Ann (Massachusetts), Blue Grass (Kentucky), Spirit Eagles (NJ), Jackals (MD), Xcalibur (PA), and True North (PA), to capture their Pool Championship. Emma Gross scored a number of critical goals from penalty corners while Megan Kelly and Jen Bleakney held the midfield with strong skillful play.
The 3rd Team, WC Eagles Red, with Katja Hansen and Michelle Thompson resolute in defense and Amanda McAteer working tirelessly in midfield, rolled off six straight wins and conceded only 2 goals, after a tentative 4- 4 draw against Coyotes (OH) in their opening game to claim their Pool Championship medals.
With midfielder Millie Stefanowicz out with a concussion sustained the previous weekend, our WC Eagles Fire struggled to find their form and maintain its shape in the tough Pool B but Makenna Colby stood out with superb play at the back and accurate penalty corner shooting. However, they finished well with a resounding 4-1 defeat of the Pool winners Spark (MD) in their last game to end on a positive note.
Our 5th team, WC Eagles Orange, bounced back after loosing their first game 1-0 to Firestyx, to post six straight close victories. This was a total team effort with Emily Finn showing poise and good decision making, as well as the occasional spectacular save, to keep the team in the game against Spirit of USA, Xcalibur, and Mystx, and every player playing with skill, pride, and passion to earn their place on the rostrum and take home their gold medals.
Rebecca Brosious made many fine saves and strong clears as she lead her WC Eagles Ruby, 6th team, team through to a 3-3-1 final tally. Michelle Walsh also had a good tournament and Logan Perkins and Lauren Dice caught the eye with their determined attacking play against strong opposition.
It came down to the final game, with the Pool Championship on the line, for our 7th team, WC Eagles White, but it was not to be their day as they fell 3 -1 in a heartbreaking end to end battle to The Edge (SJ). Allison Morris had an outstanding tournament, and with Emily Snowden spectacularly defending penalty corners and Shelby Drissel back to her true form, the whole team played with poise and fought to the end before falling at the final hurdle.
Rounding out a truly incredible National Indoor Tournament, our 8th team, WC Eagles Fly, rolled off six tough victories to dominate and win their Pool by 5 points. Arguably the most improved team in the club this year, Fly played with skill and determination, strong defending, and relentless pressure on the ball. Katie Byrom, who received two nasty cuts, showed what a fine defender she is developing into, Ashley Gubernick had a good tournament in goal, Katie Fehnel always looked dangerous on attack, Nicole Catalino used her deft stick work to create openings, Zosia Roberts closed the midfield, and Zoe Smith made strong penetrating passes from the back. This young U19 team who have worked so hard all season certainly earned the right to call themselves NIT National Pool Champions!
Three other WC Eagles were playing at the NIT – in the boys division – Jason Banner and JaJa reached the final of the Under 21 boys tournament with Jason making some good saves and JaJa scoring some spectacular goals for their team. Stuart’s team tied in the U16 Final 1-1 with Stuart scoring for his team and were awarded their gold medals!
Congratulations to you all on an outstanding Under 19 National Indoor Tournament