As Alex Revel worked back-and-forth through Oakton’s pre-game warm-up, the senior midfielder knew her team wanted to make a statement in its first Concorde District tournament match.
Up against Westfield — a team Oakton previously had beaten this season — Revel knew the game was another chance to one-up their rival again. It didn’t hurt that a district finals berth and prime Northern Region tournament seed also was on the line.
“We thought we were the better team and we could move the ball a lot,” Revel said. “We thought we had a pretty good warm-up and just felt like we were the better team.”
Revel’s belief in her team’s ability came true — the Cougars routed the Bulldogs, 18-9. The senior scored three times to help buoy the Oakton attack, and the Cougars leading scorer from the regular season, senior Jackie Rupp, added four goals.
“Our offense is so good at moving the ball a lot that it creates chances,” Rupp said. “A lot of our plays set us up and we convert them.”
Although the final score is indicative of an eay win, Westfield provided a spirited fight in the first half. After falling behind 5-1 just minutes into the game, the Bulldogs battled back with three straight goals.
Oakton coach Jean Counts sensed a momentum swing, and immediately called a time out.
“I think the girls thought that they had a lead and were already winning the game,” she said. “Westfield is scrappy and very well coached. … We weren’t doing the basics. I’m not sure what we trying to do, we weren’t playing defense. We had to tighten up.”
Oakton calmed down on defense and built up a five-goal led — but not before some heroics by goalie Emily George.
When Westfield mounted a sustained attack late in the first half, George turned away four point-blank shots. Seeing their senior goalie disrupt the prime scoring chances energized the Oakton bench.
“For her to carry our defense like that was really big,” Rupp said. “It got our momentum back from Westfield.”
In the second half, Oakton took control, as its has through much of its 9-2 regular season.
Superior draws, passing and playmaking afforded the Cougars countless scoring chances, and Westfield couldn’t keep up offensively.
With minutes left in the game, Oakton took a 10-goal lead after Catherine Miller scored.
The win will give Oakton either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the Northern Region tournament, depending on the result of Friday’s Concorde District championship. But the goal for the Cougars isn’t necessarily winning their conference.
After falling short in the state finals last year to Madison, the Cougars aim to be back in the title picture.
“We’ve got to just play our game and come out just like we did at the start of this game [for the rest of the tournament],” Revel said. “We’re going to go far if we can play to that level.”