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Archive for November 4, 2021

Nov. 4, 2021 — What we’ve learned during “tipping point” season in Virginia

The qualification for the state tournament in the Virginia High School League has had an interesting twist at the end of it.

In each of the regional tournaments, the two finalists make the eight-team state bracket, no matter what happens. What this does, in Class 4, 5, and 6, is create regional semifinals which, if won, leads to a minimum two more games and an entry into the state tournament bracket. For the loser, this leaves a team with 10 months to think about the mistakes it has made whilst falling short.

We’ve called these “tipping point” games, which can sometimes come with a different kind of pressure than the one-and-done nature of tournament field hockey elsewhere in the U.S. The rewards, especially for a team playing in its first state championship, are enormous. You will sometimes see coaches make tactical and personnel decisions that are not normally seen in the rest of the season, and risks will be taken on the pitch and off.

Region 5C saw two taut and tense matches in the regional semifinal, as Prince George (Va.) edged Glen Allen (Va.) 2-1, and Glen Allen Deep Run (Va.) bested Midlothian (Va.) 2-1 in its qualification for the state tournament.

Another great story, however, came to an end last night. You may not be instantly familiar with Alexandria (Va.) City, but you may know the school by its previous name: Alexandria T.C. Williams (Va.), the high school which is the backdrop of the film “Remember The Titans.”

Alexandria City is one of more than a half-dozen schools which have changed their names in the last three or four years to erase Confederate or segregationalist figures from school names. And perhaps Alexandria City was inspired by its new identity, playing great hockey and getting to the Regiona 6C semifnal against Fairfax (Va.). Fairfax, which has had a good history in Northern Virginia hockey, was able to get an early goal and were able to run out 3-0 winners over City.

Now, we haven’t mentioned Class 3 yet. There are two regionals which qualify four teams each, meaning that the quarterfinal round is the tipping point to great adventures in the VHSL state tournament.

If there was one result which catches the eye, it was Yorktown York (Va.), which won its semifinal against Williamsburg Lafayette (Va.) 2-1 in overtime.