Ashburn, Va. — It took the Independence High School field hockey team just over two minutes to get on the scoreboard against Loudoun Valley High School in their August 24 game in Ashburn. Then less than a minute later, Independence junior forward Olivia Danley—who finished with a game-high four goals—added her second goal of the night as the Tigers quickly expanded their lead.
That was the story of the night as Independence continued to pour on the goals against a quick and talented Loudoun Valley team. A valiant effort by the Vikings’ defense wasn’t enough as the Tigers earned their second win of the season, 8-0.
“It’s always great to score early, because it helps set the momentum of the game,” Independence head coach Jennifer Darrow said. “It sets the precedent of what we’re expecting from our team and our players.”
For Independence field hockey, the expectation is to win by playing together. Led by returning All-LoCo players Carly van Benten, Grace Gorham, and An Tran as well as 2019 All-State selections Ella Crangle, Elle Patterson, and the aforementioned Danley, the Tigers will lean on their experience and team-first mentality to compete in the Potomac District after reclassifying from Class 3 to Class 5 prior to the fall 2021 season.
“We’ve been lucky with our really strong players, and the players who started off not so strong have really benefited from our really good coaches,” Crangle said.
Crangle got in on the scoring action midway through the second quarter when she expanded the Tigers’ lead to 3-0.
“We’re definitely a team that if we don’t score right away and the other team does, we can get down in the dumps,” Crangle said. “When we score early, it jump starts our energy which leads to us scoring more.”
The Tigers’ three-goal lead would hold steady until late in the first half when Independence freshman midfielder Mary Moore battled at the Loudoun Valley goalie and eventually found the back of the net.
Through the first half, the Vikings were with the Tigers every step of the way. Led by senior midfielder Carlea Dawson, senior defender Jessica Nappi, and sophomore goalie Addison Miller, the reigning Dulles District regular season champs successfully defended attack after attack, only breaking after numerous long battles.
“Loudoun Valley is a great team. Their speed is their greatest strength against our biggest weakness; they have some foot speed for sure. They beat us to every 50-50 ball, so we need to work on that,” Darrow said. “Their goalie had some great saves, she’s quick on her feet, she knows where to go, she knows how to react; she did a great job.”
After just a four-month hiatus, the Tigers and Vikings will both look to build on their successes from their spring 2021 seasons as they look to remain at the top of their respective districts this fall.
“The biggest thing about Indy hockey is we play as one unit; there is no one individual player,” Darrow said. “As long as we play strong together, we’ll hopefully keep trucking along.”