Opponents of the Chancellor field hockey team are so used to focusing on reigning Class 4 state player of the year Emma Bernard that they sometimes forget about Kaitlyn Bestick.
In Thursday’s Region 4C championship game, Bestick made sure visiting Eastern View took notice of her.
Bestick scored two goals—one in each half—as the Chargers topped the Cyclones 4-1 in a rematch of last season’s region and state title games.
The victory means Chancellor (15-4) will host Region 4D runner-up Liberty (18-1) in the Class 4 state quarterfinals on Tuesday. Eastern View (14-6) will travel to Region 4D champion Heritage-Leesburg (16-3) the same day.
“I got to experience [winning the region] as a freshman last year, but this year I actually got to step up and have the opportunity to help lead us to it,” Bestick said. “This means so much to me.”
Both of Bestick’s goals came at critical points in the contest, with one being as big a momentum shifter as the other was a knockout punch.
Bestick’s first score, which came on a penalty corner opportunity with just under eight minutes to play before halftime, tied the score at 1 and deflated the Cyclones, who were riding high after Mia Hutchinson’s game-opening salvo at the 13:48 mark.
“We’ve practiced that [shot] in practice, but I hadn’t been very confident in it,” Bestick said of her offering, which came from near the top of the circle off an assist by teammate Erin Dameron. “But I knew I had my teammates behind me today, which gave me the confidence I needed to make it.”
After Bernard’s goal with 23:02 remaining in the game gave the Chargers their first lead at 2-1 and put Eastern View back on its heels, Bestick wasted little time in delivering the haymaker.
When Cyclones goalie Alanna Barrett stepped up and delivered a kick save amid a flurry of Chancellor and Eastern View shirts, Bestick quickly corralled the ricochet and flipped it to the left of Barrett and into the back of the cage for a 3-1 Chargers advantage with 18:49 left to play.
“The ricochet off the goalie is also something we’ve been practicing,” said a smiling Bestick. “That’s how you draw it up.”
Kylee Tuebner’s tally at the 15:39 mark put the exclamation point on Chancellor’s win.
Chargers head coach Jim Larkin said the difference in Thursday’s game and his team’s loss to the Cyclones in the Battlefield District semifinals on Oct. 26 boiled down to capitalizing on its opportunities.
“We had a ton of shots and opportunities that we just didn’t finish in that game,” he said. “We know there are ebbs and flows in these games, and the girls moved on from that loss and put the ball in the cage this time around.”
Chancellor outshot Eastern View 29-5.
“We just didn’t play our best hockey,” Eastern View assistant coach Marianne Bretschneider said. “We weren’t firing on all cylinders like we needed to, but we’ll adjust and be ready for [Heritage] on Tuesday.”
Bernard said it will take all the effort the Chargers can muster from here on out if they’re going to repeat as state champions.
“Winning the region means the world to me, especially as a senior,” she said. “But if we’re going to win state again, it’s going to take everything that everyone on this team has to give in order to do it.”