Leesburg, Va. — After knocking off their crosstown rival twice in the regular season, the Heritage High School field hockey team was on the losing end of the Dulles District championship game against that very same rival. Just a week later, the Pride bounced back, avenged their district championship loss, scored the decisive goal in overtime to defeat the Loudoun County Captains, 2-1, and claimed the VHSL Region 4D title on November 4 in Leesburg.
“We played Loudoun County four times in three weeks, so we just had to bring it back to our game, back to the basics,” Heritage head coach Hayley Roberston said. “We didn’t want to worry about their game plan but just wanted to focus on us.”
When Loudoun County took a 1-0 lead early in the first quarter, the Pride didn’t blink. They knew one goal wouldn’t win the region championship, so they stuck to their game plan, started to take more control of their possessions, and chipped away at the lead.
After successfully defending more than half a dozen corners in the game’s first seven minutes, Heritage finally earned its first corner late in the first which was cleared by the Captains. However, shortly after, the Pride took advantage of their second corner when senior midfielder Olivia Iannizzi buried a goal in the cage to even the score out at 1-1.
“Olivia brought her A-game and was a leader on the field tonight,” Robertson said. “When she brings her game and can give good looks to her teammates across the field, we can settle in and play our game.”
Over the next three quarters, Heritage was tested defensively, defending each and every attack and corner they faced. With Iannizzi—who was named second team all-Dulles District—serving as their flyer, the Pride caused enough chaos defensively to keep the Captains’ offense out of rhythm and eventually turn the momentum and ball control advantage over to Heritage.
“We looked at their corners, we prepped for their corners, and Olivia said ‘I can do this,’” Robertson said. “We had a game plan, and our communication was key.”
Following Iannizzi’s goal late in the first quarter, both teams were held scoreless for the next 45 minutes, sending the game into overtime.
Less than three minutes into overtime, Iannizzi found herself in a prime spot, deep inside the shooting circle, controlled the ball, spun, and flicked the golden goal past the Loudoun County keeper to earn the win for the Pride.
“7v7 is our game, so as soon as we knew we’d be playing 7v7, I knew we had it,” Robertson said. “We prepared for it, we played our game, and, now, we’re ecstatic.”
The win earns Heritage its sixth straight trip to the VHSL 4A state tournament—competing in the state playoffs every year since field hockey became a varsity sport in Loudoun County. The Pride will host VHSL Region 4C runner up Courtland on November 9 in Leesburg, while the Captains will travel to VHSL Region 4C champion Chancellor.
“Making moves,” Robertson said. “We’re moving on up.”
|1Q||5:17||Loudoun County||CeCe Tomaszewski||0-1|