Leesburg, Va. — In the four years of varsity field hockey in Loudoun County, no team has dominated the way Heritage High School has dominated. In just four short seasons, the Pride have put together a 66-11-1 mark, won a region championship and played in two more, and have appeared in three straight state tournaments.
One thing the Pride haven’t done: won a district championship.
From 2016–2019, Heritage competed in the VHSL 4A West Region and then Region 4C, advancing directly from the regular season to the region tournament without playing in a district tournament.
“It’s something new, and it’s local, so it means a lot to the kids,” Heritage head coach Derek Ryan said. “It’s great playing the Fauquier schools in the region, but these kids have played against each other since second or third grade. There are a lot of healthy, local, natural rivalries in this area.”
Heritage got a taste of one of those local rivalries when the Pride hosted Leesburg-foe Loudoun County on October 28 in Leesburg. After defending a few penalty corners early, the Pride got on the scoreboard and shut out the Raiders, 3-0, to advance to their first ever Dulles District championship.
These kids are all preparing for their opportunity to come in. If someone has an off night, someone else knows they’re the next one up.
—Heritage head coach Derek Ryan
Led in the backfield by senior defenders Grace Losty and Amayah Romandia, Heritage prides itself on its defensive leadership which helped post nine shutouts this fall.
“Two of our senior captains start on defense and a third comes in defensively. They do a great job supporting each other and talking to each other,” Ryan said. “I’m also proud of the maturity of both of our goalies, because their maturity allows our defenders to be more adventurous.”
Midway through the first quarter, Heritage sophomore forward Olivia Iannizzi got the Pride on the board.
“Scoring that first goal means a lot for our confidence,” Ryan said. “If you notice, our intensity went up, and we forced County to match our intensity, and they did for a while. They had some good plays. But we’re always looking to crank up our intensity to get out on the front foot.”
Early in the second, Iannizzi found Heritage junior midfielder Lindsey Blythe with a pass as Blythe connected on her first goal of the night to extend the Pride’s lead to 2-0.
“The second one makes everyone relax,” Ryan said. “The legend is it’s harder to defend a two-goal lead than a one-goal lead; I’m not really sure about that.”
With three minutes to play, Blythe put the game on ice with her second goal of the night as the Pride sealed their trip to their first ever Dulles District field hockey championship, where they’ll host Broad Run on October 30 in Leesburg.
“It’s just the next tree to climb,” Ryan said. “These kids are all preparing for their opportunity to come in. If someone has an off night, someone else knows they’re the next one up.”
|2H||21:17||Heritage||Lindsey Blythe (Olivia Iannizzi assist)||2-0|
|2H||3:06||Heritage||Lindsey Blythe (Renee Schmidt assist)||3-0|