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Sept. 21, 2016 — An even greater change in the offing

This year has seen, after a decade of effort, 14 new field hockey teams join the Virginia High School League because of the efforts of coaches in Loudoun County, one of the fastest-growing regions of the country the last 50 years.

The sudden addition of 14 new varsity teams has, it seems, caught just about everyone at the Virginia High School League off-guard. It has only been in the last week that the administrators in Richmond have figured out that, because of the influx of teams, there is going to have to be an adjustment in the alignment of the state tournament.

The upshot is that the VHSL is going to have four, not three, state championships this year. All four tournaments are to be held at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach; the extra game, it seems, was the impetus for the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association to move its championship doubleheader to Longwood College in Farmville.

Now, the formula for the postseason has not yet been released by the Virginia High School League. What we do know is that the Loudoun County schools, clustered into the Dulles District and the Potomac District, are almost exclusively 4A and 5A schools:

Dulles District CLS
Aldie John Champe 4A
Sterling Dominion 4A
South Riding Freedom 4A
Leesburg Heritage 4A
Leesburg Loudoun County 4A
Purcellville Loudoun Valley 4A
Sterling Park View* 4A
Ashburn Rock Ridge 4A
Leesburg Riverside 3A
Purcellville Woodgrove 4A

*–Not fielding a field hockey team in 2016

Potomac District CLS
Ashburn Briar Woods 5A
Ashburn Broad Run 5A
Sterling Potomac Falls 5A
Ashburn Stone Bridge 5A
Leesburg Tuscarora 5A

I guess it does make sense to make a fourth state tournament, given the influx into 4A now and in the future if Park View becomes Loudoun County’s 15th team.

Now, I can’t speculate exactly what the four state tournaments will look like, especially the 3A tournament for the smallest schools. But if the VHSL keeps to form, the tournament for the small schools might be one of the strongest around, with Yorktown Tabb (Va.), Richmond Maggie Walker (Va.), Williamsburg Bruton (Va.), and Fredericksburg James Monroe (Va.) vying for top honors.

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