A season that began without lofty expectations ended in the best and most thrilling possible manner for the Yorktown Patriots – with a second state championship.
The Patriots (20-2) finished 3-0 in the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 girls state field hockey tournament, winning each match on the road at three different venues in the Virginia Beach area.
In the semifinals and finals, Yorktown won each dramatically, by 2-1 and 1-0 scores in the second sudden-death overtime period. In the Nov. 11 championship match, the Patriots downed the W.T. Woodson Cavaliers, 1-0, at Kellam High School on a tip-in goal by junior midfielder Paige Baskin with 3:05 left in the second overtime. She punched the ball into the goal box after the Woodson goalie made a kick save on an initial shot taken by Yorktown senior Alexis Williams (nine goals, six assists this season).
The goal was Baskin’s second this fall.
“I was at the top of the [penalty] circle when Alexis shot, and I got the rebound and knocked it in the goal,” Baskin said. “Then everybody jumped on me. I was in the right place at the right time.”
The winning sequence began when Elena Reiser (10 goals, seven assists) took a shot off a penalty corner situation inserted by Williams. Earlier in the match, Reiser hit the left goal post on a penalty shot.
The state championship was Yorktown second in three years, after a runner-up finish last fall.
In this year’s Nov. 10 state semifinal at Ocean Lakes High School, Yorktown nipped defending champion Fairfax, 2-1, on a double-overtime goal by Olivia Stafford with 4:40 left in the period. It was her team-leading 11 goal this season to go with seven assists. Fairfax topped Yorktown, 1-0, in last year’s state final.
Yorktown goalie Sarah Kinzer made multiple big saves in the two games to earn the shutouts.
“It was pretty tiring playing in those two long games, but knowing there was a state championship trophy and ring on the line got us motivated,” Baskin said. “We stayed composed and really determined.”
With 11 seniors having graduated from last year’s team, Baskin and Yorktown head coach Olivia Shipley said the team didn’t necessarily have lofty goals because of the uncertainty.
“We didn’t know what to expect this season,” Baskin said. “Then we beat Fairfax in overtime in an early-season game. That made us determined because we realized we were still pretty good.”
Shipley realized the 2023 squad had big potential, but with the loss of 11 seniors the team’s dynamic would be different.
“They were all competitors and dug deep,” Shipley said.
The coach praised Kinzer for her strong play and big saves throughout the playoffs, especially after not seeing nearly the same type of action in many one-sided regular-season victories.
In their first-round state-tournament game Nov. 7 at Grassfield High School, the Patriots blanked the host Grassfield Grizzlies, 3-0. Stafford had a goal and two assists. Piper Gill (three goals) and Maddie Nimerala (four goals) also scored goals and Williams had an assist. The goals by Gill and Nimerala were tipins on rebounded shots.
NOTES: Yorktown is the first field hockey team from Northern Virginia to play in three state championship matches of the VHSL’s highest enrollment classification. All three were 1-0 games. The Patriots’ overall three-year record in state tournaments is 8-1, with a 23-1 overall three-year postseason record, also including district and region-tournament play . . . Yorktown was 4-0 in overtime matches this season, three in the playoffs . . . Anna Menard (six goals) and Olivia Nelsen (four goals) were other top scorers this fall . . . Yorktown had never qualified for the state tournament until 2019, when the Patriots lost a first-round match . . . Williams will play college field hockey at the University of Pennsylvania.