Despite the loss of key players to injury and relocation, the Western Albemarle County High School Junior Varsity field hockey team managed to post a record of 10 wins, four losses and two ties. Even more impressive was the goal differential, a whopping 43 – 13. However, according to coach Compton Going, the statistics don’t tell the half of it. “Sure, the numbers show we had a successful season,” he said. “As a field hockey family, from the parents and friends in the stands, to the coaches and players on the sidelines, we were continually encouraged by the scoreboard. But for me, the most impressive marker was the degree of improvement. These girls went above and beyond to work hard and improve their level of play every game.”
And this in the face of setbacks. For instance, a few weeks into the season the girls lost their starting left midfielder, Annie West, to a family move. Then there was Ann Carter Sipe, the team’s starting midfielder and driving force, who played the entire season with turf toe. And then Caroline Teague, who toward the end of the season suffered a broken arm. And lastly, Reagan Burton, a high-speed right wing who was bedridden after coming down with pneumonia.
Furthermore, with Going and his assistant, Steve Momorella, coming onboard August 1, both coaches and players faced a steep learning curve. “While we’d met and coached some of these girls in the Albemarle Girls’ Field Hockey League, we had no real idea what to expect,” said Going. “Coming on with less than a month to go before the first game, we had very little time to form and develop as a team. But we were confident that if we worked hard and played to the athletes’ strengths we would be competitive.”
With this in mind, the new coaches’ decided to emphasize possession. Their idea? Hold onto the ball as much as possible and make it difficult—if not impossible—for opposing teams to score. And guess what? The strategy worked. “A season highlight came when, after our game with Charlottesville, the referee made a point of speaking to the team,” said Goin. “Having a seasoned, respected referee from a historically highly competitive area go out of his way to tell them they’d played the best game he’d ever called was profound. It really boosted the girls’ confidence.”
Overall, Going says his first season with WAHS was an experience he wished didn’t have to end. “Our goal as coaches was to teach the girls how to play high-level field hockey,” he says. “Meanwhile, we wanted to use the sport as a means of helping them navigate the ups and downs of high school and community life. And I think we accomplished those goals.”
Award-winners recognized by the team included: Offensive MVP, sophomore Melinda Punsalan; Defensive MVP, freshman Mary Moffett; Warrior Award, sophomore and captain Isabel Brown; Sportsmanship Award, sophomore Elizabeth Callahan.