Given their combined 20-2 record so far this fall, it’s no surprise that Westfield’s football and field hockey teams are chock-full of difference makers.
Guys like running back Dalaun Richardson and quarterback Chris Mullins have been making defenses look silly on the gridiron, while defensive stalwarts Lauren Saltus and Colby Kidwell are anchoring the most impregnable back line on the Northern Region’s field hockey scene.
Yet you don’t have to look far to notice one name that keeps popping up at the forefront of both Westfield powerhouses. Whether it’s shots being blasted into the cage or opposing ball carriers being dragged to the turf, the Bulldogs have relied heavily on the Winesetts during two dominant 2012 seasons.
Scan one side of Westfield’s turf field on a weekday afternoon and you’ll find Meghan and Katie Winesett whacking passes back and forth in drills. Meghan, a senior, leads the field hockey team in assists with 14 so far this season. She and Katie, a junior, each have 16 goals, making them second on the team in scoring just behind Emily McNamara’s 17.
On the other side of the field is Katie’s older brother, Matt Winesett, a senior linebacker who recovered from a broken leg suffered last year to become a key contributor to the Westfield defense this year. Heading into tonight’s game against West Potomac, Matt has about 20 tackles on defense so far this season in addition to his duties on special teams.
“All three are great, great kids,” said longtime area field hockey coach Starr Karl, who is coaching her third season at Westfield. “They’re real smart, and they’re leaders out there and real team players.”
Meghan and Katie are leading a team that looks poised to go after its first Northern Region title since 2006. The four-time defending Concorde District champions concluded their regular season Wednesday with a win against Herndon that improved their season record to 14-2. The Bulldogs have outscored their 13 regional opponents 64-3 this season.
Meghan, last season’s region player of the year, heads a squad that has returned nine of 11 starters from last year’s 20-4 team that fell to South County in the region final before bowing out of the state tournament in the semifinals.
“We’re really experienced and pretty old this year with all the juniors and seniors,” Meghan said. “We did a lot in the offseason, so we kind of knew it was going to be a good year coming in, but we’ve been working so much harder than I remember in practice. We take it so seriously, and it’s really been paying off.”
Her cousin, Katie, has shown the kind of improvement between her sophomore and junior seasons to make her a steady force for the strongest attacking unit in the area. A first-team all-district forward last season, she possesses a nose for the goal that can strike fear into opponents’ hearts.
“I have a couple kids on this team who I would never get in their way when they’re taking a shot, and she’s one of them,” Karl said. “Girls are scared of her when she takes a shot.”
Katie’s hunger around the cage combines nicely with Meghan’s signature selfless style of play in midfield. Their chemistry on the field goes back to their younger days playing inline hockey alongside Matt. The whole family has been steeped in sports ever since they can remember, harking back to the days of tee ball, when their dads manned the sidelines.
“We’re really close, and I think that helps on and off the field,” Katie said. “We just work really well together and play off each other. Our communication is really good.”
Matt, the oldest of the three, helps lead a young Westfield defense that has surprised many with its timely play so far this season. Despite losing nearly all of its starters from last year, the Bulldogs’ defense has come together to produce several clutch performances, including some impressive fourth quarter stops that sealed 3-point wins against district rivals Robinson and Chantilly.
A starting role at the linebacker spot this year didn’t come easy for Matt. He broke his left femur during a drill in practice about midway through last season, an injury that left him on crutches for six weeks and in a brace for a month after that. It was about six months before he could do anything physical with his leg.
“He had to speed himself up in the offseason and get up to speed,” Westfield coach Kyle Simmons said. “He put a lot of lean muscle on. I’m really proud of him. He’s done it for himself, which has turned into something good for us.”
With Meghan and Matt bound for college next year, this season marks the last in which the Winesett triumvirate will roam the fields together. Meghan will be headed to play field hockey at Delaware, while Matt, who decided not to pursue football in college, is considering Virginia, South Carolina and Clemson. Meghan’s older brother, A.J., a former star wide receiver at Westfield, currently is a sophomore at Ohio University.
Matt and Katie never have been overly competitive around each other, but Katie did make a remark recently that rubbed her brother the wrong way.
“Last week she claimed that field hockey was the best Westfield sport,” Matt said. “I said, ‘We’re undefeated and they’re not.’ So I think football still has the edge.”