The Chancellor field hockey team had just qualified for the Class 4 state tournament for the second straight season, but head coach Jim Larkin’s message to the Chargers wasn’t bubbly after their 1–0 home victory over rival Courtland.
Larkin succinctly told his players that if they put forth a similar performance in the Region 4C championship game on Thursday at Eastern View, they’re going to get blown out.
Regardless of the outcome Thursday, Chancellor is headed back to the state tournament, but Larkin is far from content.
Larkin has guided the Chargers to four state championships and he knows their level of play must increase if they want to add a fifth banner.
“Last year was really exciting because it had been a while since we were in the state tournament,” Larkin said. “But I need the girls to know it’s not good enough to just go.
“I had them in the gym the other day and we looked up at the banners. I said, ‘There’s four of them there. You’re four wins away from hanging another up on the wall.’ Now it’s three wins. They’re capable. It’s possible. It’s in their hands. We’re happy, but we’re definitely not satisfied with the game today.”
The Chargers (12–5) made a first-half goal from senior Bethany Newton stand up the entire game. They took more than 20 shots on goal, but Courtland senior goalkeeper Sydney Tune consistently turned them back. Newton scored on one of the Chargers’ 13 corner opportunities.
Emma Bernard had 12 shots on goal alone for Chancellor. Tune said on Newton’s score, the barrage was overwhelming.
“It was just so many shots all at once,” Tune said. “So many people were piled in the circle that it was just difficult to keep track of the ball. There is really nothing any of us could’ve done.”
Still, Larkin and Newton expressed regret that the Chargers weren’t able to score more. Larkin noted that the Chargers’ five defeats were all close games that came down to their inability to score. They dropped two one-goal games to Eastern View in the regular season—one at the Fredericksburg Fieldhouse and another on the Cyclones’ home field.
Larkin said the Chargers’ postseason run will be halted if they don’t develop a killer instinct.
“We’re not aggressive enough and sometimes you’ve got to be greedy,” Larkin said. “We’re making an extra pass when we can go right around her, make a move and put the ball in the cage. We’ve been talking about that for weeks and weeks and weeks. At some point, it’s got to click in.”
Thursday would be a good time for the Chargers to improve in that area. They’re facing an Eastern View team that has plenty of experience returning from its run to the state championship game last season. The Cyclones knocked off Charlottesville 7–0 on Thursday.
“They’re aggressive,” Larkin said. “They pounce on the ball and they want the ball. You can’t teach want.”
The Cougars put up a tussle on Thursday but ultimately fell short to end Skyler Medley’s first full season as head coach.
Courtland had just two shots on goal and was visibly frustrated toward the end of the game.
Still, Medley said she’s impressed with the way her players battled.
“They played a heck of a game today,” Medley said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them. We got slaughtered the first game against them and we lost 6–1 the second game. So to end on a 1–0 game with Chancellor, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”