BETHESDA – Another chapter in the Battle of Bethesda unfolded on April 12 when the undefeated Lady Vikings of Walt Whitman High School took on their neighbors and rivals, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase, in a game of lacrosse at Whitman’s home field, Jerome M. Marco Stadium.
The thunderstorms that had been forecasted to pelt the area were a non-factor, as the game started a half hour earlier than its scheduled start time in an effort to avoid the bad weather. However, despite a soggy field and several bouts of mid-game drizzle, the Vikings kept their winning streak intact and improved to a perfect 8-0 over the Barons by a final score of 15-8.
Whitman sophomore attacker Faith Parker said that the Vikings were extra motivated to beat B-CC (5-3), especially since the two schools are less than five miles away from one another.
“We really just wanted to come out hard, because we always want to beat B-CC; they’re one of our biggest rivals,” said Parker, who notched three goals and a pair of assists. “We’re really close with (the Barons) and all of our sports teams are pretty good at Whitman and B-CC, so it’s always a really good matchup.”
The Barons, perhaps similarly encouraged by the rivalry with Whitman, quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Vikings could get on the board. B-CC’s defenders kept the Vikings from moving closer to the net and finding the open shot. As the game progressed, the drizzle that had been sporadically falling onto the field began to result in missed passes and turnovers by both teams.
Parker caught a pass and swooped in from the right side of the net to give Whitman its first goal 10 minutes into the game. Later, she provided the assist to senior midfielder Julia Curran for the go-ahead goal. Even though Parker’s pass was a little high, Curran leaped into the air with her stick, came down with the ball and finished at the net. The Vikings wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the evening.
“We’ve played in bad conditions before and we usually adjust to them, but it was definitely hard, because especially on the turf it’s really easy to slip. You just have to adjust on attack, how you’re cutting and how you’re driving,” said Parker. “I think my cuts were working; in the beginning, most of my goals were off-cuts, because you have to see when your defender isn’t looking at you.”
Besides Parker, five other Vikings scored in the first half alone; four of those five registered another goal in the second half.
B-CC Head Coach Rosana Pagan referred to the Barons as a “second-half team” and, true to form, the blue-and-gold-clad squad from Bethesda seemed to obtain a second wind after halftime. Despite heavy coverage from the Whitman defenders, B-CC sophomore midfielder Ardyn Kesterman found an open shot by the net to give the Barons their first goal of the second half. Then, freshman midfielder Lizzie Coyle flew from the right side of the net to draw the Barons one point closer to Whitman’s lead.
The Vikings started to pull away again with five minutes left to play, but the Barons weren’t going to go away quietly. B-CC scored twice in less than 30 seconds before Vikings attacker Maya Svec landed her second goal, with 18 seconds left to cap off Whitman’s eighth win and secure Battle of Bethesda bragging rights.
After the game, Pagan commended her players for maintaining their level of sportsmanship in a losing effort.
“I am so proud of the level of play and of the class that my girls bring into the game every time,” she said. “There’s no backtalk to refs, there’s no lack of sportsmanship, there’s no lying. I’m really proud of the fact that my girls keep it classy.”
As for the Vikings, Whitman Head Coach Katie Bitonti said there’s no real secret formula to going undefeated so far this season. She just asks the players to give it their all in every game they play.
“It doesn’t matter what their record is or what the score was last season; they have to play that game like it’s the first time they’re seeing that team, and just work together, and never let down,” said Bitonti. “The goal is to continue playing the way that we are and keep working together.”
The Vikings will have to remember Bitonti’s words, especially on April 30 when Sherwood come to town. When Whitman played the Warriors last season, both teams were undefeated, and the game went to double overtime before a last-second Sherwood goal handed Whitman its first loss.
The upcoming matchup against Sherwood is at the forefront for Parker, particularly after last season’s heartbreaker.
“We have a big game coming up against Sherwood, so we really want to beat them. And it’ll be at home,” said Parker. “We really want to come back strong.”