UPDATE (Oct. 24, 9 a.m.): The Majors defeated Chantilly in last night's game. They will face West Springfield Friday night at MVHS.
Mount Vernon field hockey (15-3-1) coach Jessica Hebel watched Chantilly play (8-9-1) in the Under the Lights tournament in late August. While the two teams didn’t square off against one another, Hebel took note of Chantilly’s strengths.
The fifth-year head coach will dust off those notes Tuesday evening when Mount Vernon hosts the Chantilly Chargers in the opening round of Northern Region tournament play.
“I saw that they had a really good small passing game, and that’s one of the things that our team is good at as well,” Hebel said. “I think that it will be a good game for both teams and it’ll be pretty evenly matched.”
Mount Vernon captured the National District title Monday evening with a 2-0 victory over Yorktown (11-7). Vocal fan support and home-field advantage proved to be the perfect ingredient for Mount Vernon’s success. The Majors darted off to a quick start and did not ease up on the tempo for the duration of the contest.
“We came out pretty strong from the beginning. I think we had three corners in the first five minutes [of the game],” said Hebel. “That was a great morale booster and [set the tone] for a pretty good game.”
Senior forward Gabby Ocker scored both of the Majors’ goals and helped Mount Vernon capture its third district title in five years.
“She played great,” Hebel said of her senior. “Her positioning throughout the game was really good. She kept it nice and low and made sure that she received the ball before she attempted her shots. She did really well.”
With Monday’s victory, Mount Vernon finished undefeated in National District play, an accomplishement that Hebel says is possibly even more impressive than winning the district title.
“I’d say that it’s a little more exciting,” she said. “I think that we were all excited not just that we won the district championship, but also that we had gone undefeated in district play. To me, that’s as important.”
While Chantilly doesn’t carry as impressive of a regular-season resume as Mount Vernon, the Chargers competed in the competitive Concorde District and advanced to the district semifinals. Chantilly also enjoyed signature wins against West Springfield (14-3-1) and Marshall (14-5).
Hebel won’t allow her team to dwell too much on yesterday’s victory. In her five years as head coach, the Majors have never advanced past the opening round of the Northern Region tournament. Three of Mount Vernon’s five regional tournament loses ended in overtime. Hebel and Mount Vernon will look for that to change Tuesday evening and extend their current seven-game winning streak.
“I’m hoping that we’re hitting our stride this year for regionals,” she said. “We’ve been very competitive in our games. If we can perform better in regionals this year than we have in the past, we’ll all be very happy to continue playing. We’re hoping that tonight won’t be our last.”