Due to a scheduling quirk, the James Monroe field hockey team had more than two weeks off between its first two games this season.

It was 17 days, to be exact, between the Yellow Jackets’ season-opening 4-0 win at Grafton on Aug. 26 and Thursday’s matchup with Eastern View.

The long layoff didn’t seem to phase the Jackets though, as they cruised to an easy 5-1 victory over the host Cyclones in an early-season showdown between two of the top teams in the state.

“We had that big win [over Grafton] to start the season and then it was like, ‘Okay, we’re ready for our next game,’” first-year JM head coach Erin Cunningham said of the layoff. “I didn’t feel like we were ready to play in the first couple of minutes [today], but once we got our composure and got into our groove, it was pretty hard to stop us.”

Ginny Beringer was a big reason why the two-time defending Class 3 state champion Jackets found their groove. The junior tallied two goals on the afternoon—one in each half—to pace JM’s scoring attack.

Beringer’s first goal was of the basketball variety. With 1:29 remaining in the first half, she posted up Eastern View goalie Jensen Armstrong just a few feet from the cage, spun left and flipped the ball in to give the Jackets a commanding 2-0 lead heading into halftime.

“We work on spin moves a lot in practice,” Beringer said of her maneuver. “We put down cones and spin around them as though they were defenders. In this case it was just the goalie and I, so I used it to get around her.”

After the Cyclones’ Cassidy Morrison scored to cut JM’s lead to 3-1 with 18 minutes left in regulation, Beringer responded almost immediately for the Jackets. Her second goal of the game, also from close range, restored JM’s three-goal advantage at 4-1 with 16:19 remaining and squashed any momentum Eastern View (3-1 overall, 1-1 Battlefield District) might have had.

Cyclones head coach Peggy Allen was blunt when discussing the reason for her team’s defeat.

“As soon as [JM] scored their first goal, we just fell apart,” she said. “It’s called mental toughness, and obviously we don’t have it [right now].”

Eastern View had three shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the contest, but was unable to capitalize due to a combination of misfires and sound defense by Jackets goalie Sam Black.

Shortly thereafter, JM’s Claire Brady broke the scoreless tie with a goal at the 16:43 mark, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

Zoe Tierney and Celie Constantine added the Jackets’ other two scores, while Black racked up six saves in the game.

Cunningham said Eastern View, which advanced to the Class 4 state title game in each of the past two seasons, really took it to the Jackets early on.

“They definitely came out hard and fast,” she remarked. “They really, really showed us up in that first couple of minutes, but we were able to weather the storm and play our game.”

James Monroe returns to action when it welcomes Courtland to Maury Stadium next Tuesday. Eastern View hosts county rival Culpeper on Monday.

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