POTOMAC – The Winston Churchill High School field hockey team was on a roll, going unbeaten the whole regular season and the early rounds of the state playoffs to amass a 14-game winning streak. The Bulldogs were hoping to add their 15th victory of the year in their state quarterfinal matchup against Old Mill High School (7-5) on Nov. 1.
However, the Patriots were also coming in hot and looking to spoil the Bulldogs’ party on their home turf. Old Mill kept their game close and scored the lone goal in the second half to eliminate Churchill, 1-0, ending their quest for an undefeated season.
“I’m so proud of the girls on this team,” said Churchill Head Coach Cay Miller. “Every single person laid it all out on the field. We’ve got to be proud of what we accomplished today, even though the scoreboard didn’t go the way we wanted.”
“We came to Churchill,” said Old Mill Head Coach Heather Arnold. “They’re an incredible team. They’ve had a great season. Both teams played very well. We had to adjust, we’re a turf team so we adjusted to playing on this Bermuda grass.”
In the first half, both teams were able to move the ball extremely well while defending their goal nets with block shots and clearing the ball away. Both teams entered halftime only registering two shots on target in the opening period.
Midway through the second half, Patriots senior midfielder Kaiya Sabur attempted a shot that bounced off of Bulldogs junior goalie Allison Jacobs and landed in front senior forward Jade Krakuk for the game’s first and only goal.
“It definitely was a team effort,” said Kakuk. “Our goal from our team is usually to draw corners and we did that. Kaiya hit the shot and I just got the rebound. All of our team worked so hard. We kept each other’s heads up and we just stayed in it.”
The Bulldogs did their best to score the equalizer but were unable to put an attempt on frame before the clock expired. In net, Jacobs finished with one save to keep the Bulldogs alive, while Old Mill junior Patricia Sanchez notched two saves. Once the game was declared over, the Patriots celebrated together while Churchill players visibly sobbed, knowing that their dominant season had come to an abrupt end.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Miller. “We had plans to go far in this postseason.”
While the main story was Old Mill advancing, this was the Bulldogs’ fourth consecutive season as the 4A South Regional Champions and their third undefeated regular season in four years.
“We’re graduating some really talented seniors,” said Miller. “We’re going to leave some big shoes to fill, and it’s not going to be the same without them.”
Some of the standouts of the day, according to Miller, were senior midfielder Lucia Alem and junior forward Natalie Heshmat. Alem led the team with nine assists and is one of 10 seniors on Churchill’s field hockey team.
“She never gave up until the very last second,” Miller stated on Alem. “She was going after every ball with all that she could and she just showed sheer determination.”
“This is my family right here,” said Alem. “We’ve been blending for the past four years and we had an amazing season. We’ve gotten so much closer this season and we played well as a team this year.”
Alem said that even though Churchill was the No. 1 seeded team in the bracket and Old Mill was the No. 8, the task was not going to be easy.
“We knew they were going to be tough,” said Alem, “and they’re an amazing team, really good players. We were a little nervous, but we were confident in our skills and we really thought we could do it.”
Alem and fellow senior teammate defender Robyn Peterson had been on varsity since freshman year, with the team’s overall record being 47-1 during their tenure. However, it stings not to bring home a state title in their senior year, Peterson said.
“I think we played our best,” said Peterson. “They’re a really strong team, but we did the best that we could do, and our bond together is so strong that I know that this isn’t the end of everything and I know we’ll still continue being a family after all of this.”