Damascus controls game in 3-0 shutout
BLAZER FIELD, Sept. 17 -
The Blair junior varsity field hockey team suffered their first loss of the season on Wednesday, falling 3-0 to a skillful Damascus squad. Miscommunication, team disorganization and failure to mark offensive threats left the Blazers vulnerable to the Hornets' explosive attacking force.
Head coach Nina Hagan was not greatly concerned with the loss, however, and commended her team for the level of effort evident in their play. "We played hard and are improving with every game," she said. "I just want us to continue to work hard and learn from our mistakes."
Hagan specifically identified Blair's defensive breakdowns, when Hornet attackers often went unmarked and the absence of communication impeded Blair's ability to recover. "We need to work on knowing where you are and who's around you - spatial awareness," Hagan said to her team in a post-game speech.
Damascus dominated most of the first half, sending skillful strikers into Blair's shooting circle after splitting the defensive line with a series of crisp, well-placed passes. An unrelenting attacking force drove the ball down the sidelines and cut into the middle, eventually wearing down the Blair defense. Within 10 minutes of the game's start, Damascus fed the ball into a crowded shooting circle and slotted it right past returning junior goalkeeper Anne Buckley for their first goal.
A similar defensive breakdown allowed the Hornets to score later in the first half. After leading a few unsuccessful runs towards the goal, Blair offenders lost possession of the ball and the Hornets resumed their confident assault on the Blair defense. Evasive Hornet attackers drove into the shooting circle and fired a shot into the corner of the cage for their second goal.
Sophomore co-captain Lauren Rust offered her assessment of the defensive collapse. "There were lots of spaces in our walls, and we were often confused as to where the ball was," she said. "But Damascus is a tough team. This was a good learning experience."
The second half opened slowly due to a series of penalties that neither team took advantage of when rewarded with the free hit. But the Blazers soon found their composure with a calculated assault on the Damascus defense. Rust and freshman stand-out Elizabeth Noxon strung together a series of fast-paced passes, working together to elude the Hornets' formidable defense and advance the ball near the shooting circle.
Blair's best scoring opportunity came on such a combination. Noxon passed to Rust, who then penetrated the defense with a rapid-fire pass back to Noxon. Noxon made it to the shooting circle and fired off a shot that narrowly slid wide of the goal. Despite applying pressure to the Damascus strikers, a tenacious Blair defense could not prevent the Hornets from scoring a third goal in a play following a penalty.
Hagan was pleased with her team's offensive performance, but concedes there is room for improvement. "Our tackling and driving were very good," she said. "But we need to work on our organization and awareness as a team."
The Blazers' next home game is Thursday, Sept. 25 against Poolesville at 5 p.m.
Lauren Kestner. Lauren Kestner loves Trader Joe's chocolates, cheesy television soap operas, summer trips to Lake Anna, coffee ice cream from Coldstone Creamery, hikes at Northwest Branch and shopping at Heritage. Playing soccer for Blair or her MSC club team and running at the gym consumes much … More »