HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY

Oct. 17, 2007

Robinson's best just good enough for KCD

By NATHAN CHAMBERS
BeyondTheDerby.com

Kentucky Country Day's Gray Robinson

Kentucky Country Day’s offensive penalty corners often look so complicated, even when perfectly executed, that it’s not difficult to imagine assistant coach Patrick McAnulty concocting the plays in a classroom while his U.S. history students are taking a test.

But when head coach Amy Charasika turned to him for a corner play in overtime in the District 1 final at Ballard’s Chilton Field on Wednesday night, McAnulty decided to keep it simple.

“Get it to Gray,” he said.

So Charasika signaled to her players to do just that. Positioned at the top of the circle, senior Gray Robinson (pictured) took the insertion pass from senior Maggie Flowers, settled the ball, and drilled it toward the cage. Ballard’s star goalie, junior Lara Williams, appeared to get her left foot on the ball, but it hopped past her and sealed second-seeded KCD’s wild 4-3 win over the top-seeded Bruins.

“It was beyond exciting,” Robinson said.

It also was the best - or, at least, the most important - performance of Robinson’s high school field hockey career. She had two goals and two assists in a victory that will match the Bearcats (19-6-1) with a district runner-up, rather than a district winner, in the state quarterfinals on Saturday.

Robinson, who has committed to Davidson College, also broke KCD’s single-season assists record with her 22nd, passing the mark that former All-American Cindy Lunsford established in 1991.

“Gray was phenomenal,” Charasika said. “She really came through in the clutch.”

Robinson’s game-winning goal reversed KCD’s fortune in its rivalry with the Bruins (16-6) this season. The Bearcats had lost both previous meetings in overtime - including a 4-3 setback in the Apple Tournament quarterfinals on Aug. 14, when Ballard overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits. The Bearcats blew an even larger lead - 3-0 - on Wednesday but pulled out the win.

“That’s definitely frustrating,” Charasika said. “I think sometimes, as a team, we get complacent when we have a lead. But a win is a win, and that’s what we needed tonight. We gutted it out and got a goal when we had to get a goal. So I can’t complain.”

Ballard coach Kelly Logsdon didn’t complain, either.

“We can’t continue to come back from 2-0 or 3-0 and always have it go our way,” she said. “But because of the way we did come back, I’m still very proud of the team. And we’re moving on. We have another chance.”

A comeback seemed unlikely late in the first half. The Bearcats were in complete control, scoring on three of their first four shots on goal and keeping Ballard out of their circle.

Robinson got it started in the fifth minute, when she slipped the ball past Williams (6 saves) after the Bruins failed to clear a crossing pass from Flowers.

A similar defensive breakdown cost the Bruins another goal in the 14th minute. After Williams stopped two shots off a corner, Robinson put her stick on a rebound and dished it to freshman Paige Henry off the left post. That side of the cage was open, and Henry pushed the ball over the goal line.

On KCD’s next corner in the 21st minute, Robinson fed senior Christy Chapman, who drove a shot into the cage for a 3-0 lead.

“We played one of the best first halves, if not the best, that I’ve seen us play,” Robinson said.

“They were ready for us, that’s for sure,” Logsdon said.

The Bruins finally earned their first corner with a little less than two minutes left in the first half. They earned two more in the final minute, and junior Hannah Walter made the last one count when she scored as time expired.

“I called a timeout with about three minutes to go, and I told them that we had to score in the first half to have a chance to stay in the game,” Logsdon said.

Ballard outplayed the Bearcats in the second half but still trailed 3-1 until senior Amanda Seeley, who has committed to Miami (Ohio) University, slapped a shot past KCD junior goalie Sarah Anderson (4 saves) on a corner.

That started a frenzied final five minutes, and Seeley tied it when she redirected a free hit off the stick of University of Louisville recruit Kelsey Rothberg with 0:41 on the clock.

The game then went into a 10-minute, sudden-death, seven-on-seven overtime period, and the Bearcats quickly earned the corner that produced Robinson's winning goal.

"They got the first possession and capitalized on it," Logsdon said. "That's what can happen in seven-a-side."

District 3

Five weeks after a 4-1 loss on Assumption’s turf, second-seeded Collegiate took advantage of Atherton’s muddy field on Wednesday and beat the top-seeded Rockets 2-0 to win the district title.

Sophomore Taylor Hodge and senior Caroline Goldstein both scored in the middle of the second half for the Amazons (18-7), who will ride an eight-game winning streak into the state quarterfinals. Hodge scored her 27th goal, which ranks second in Kentucky behind KCD senior Christena Burell’s 30.

The Rockets (18-6) had won 11 of their last 12 games.

District 4

Senior Alli Flood scored in the first half and sophomore Erin Schneidtmiller scored in the second half as top-seeded Mercy beat second-seeded Manual 2-0 in the district final at Rachel Baker Field.

The Jaguars (22-5) improved upon the second-best record in Kentucky, while the Crimsons (11-13-2) lost for the fifth time in their last seven games.

District 2

Senior Taylor Collins scored four goals to lead defending state champion Sacred Heart to a 10-0 win over Seneca in a district semifinal.

Senior Brittany Sullivan scored twice for the top-seeded Valkyries (22-0), who have won 50 straight games since 2005, and senior Devanny Kuhn and juniors Kristen Henn, Jessica Lindner and Olivia Miller each scored once.

Sacred Heart will play second-seeded Christian Academy in the district final at 5 p.m. on Thursday.