WOODBINE — No matter how many practices are postponed, schedules shifted, or routines ruined amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some principles of the game never change.
Like adhering to your field hockey coach’s persistent sermons about getting to the goal on offense and keeping the bottom of your stick along the playing surface. Francis Scott Key senior Sam Strahotsky has no doubt heard that for many years, and it paid off for her during Monday’s game against Manchester Valley.
Strahotsky saw a scoring chance developing for the Eagles and knew what she had to do. Her surge into the circle led to Strahotsky staying with the play and knocking in what proved to be the game-winner in FSK’s 1-0 victory at Western Regional Park.
The goal came in the third quarter and after a goalie save from Man Valley’s Chloe Rama. The ball trickled away from Rama just enough for Strahotsky, with her stick in the proper position, to poke it past the Mavericks keeper. Key’s defense held on from there, even with Manchester Valley nearly scoring the equalizer in the game’s final seconds.
The Eagles (2-6) enjoyed their first win since March 26, and coach Lori Knights said her squad has come a long way since the early stages of this unique fall sports season.
“I think we had practiced two days [for] maybe 45 minutes, and then a week off because it snowed,” Knights said. “Our preseason wasn’t what it normally was, and so we were definitely behind this year. Getting to where we needed to be, meshing and conditioning. ... Absolutely better.”
Scoring chances were hard to come by for most of the first half, with the Mavericks (2-7) and Eagles both trying to establish rhythm on offense. The Mavs had six penalty corner tries in the second half, the last of which came as a result of a foul near the goal that drew a whistle from the officials while the ball was headed into Key’s goal.
The play was ruled over before the shot, and the ensuing corner was turned away by Francis Scott Key’s defense with a little less than 60 seconds to go. Emma Buzby had seven of the Eagles’ nine goalie saves in the win.
Man Valley coach Denean Koontz said senior Bryce Gerber and sophomore Ashley Mountcastle stood out in the midfield on her team’s side. Meanwhile, Francis Scott Key has one game remaining with a matchup against South Carroll on Wednesday.
“With all of the difficulties, it has definitely made us stronger as a team,” Strahotsky said. “It has brought us together, even though with COVID we couldn’t have team bondings and we couldn’t have team dinners. We couldn’t really do much together, so the time that we did spend together, we had to really make it worth it.”