T.C. Williams field hockey looks to stay focused in midst of hot streak

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T.C. Williams field hockey looks to stay focused in midst of hot streak
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By Chris Teale (Photo/Chris Teale)

For all their dominance Monday night at home against Annandale, the T.C. Williams field hockey team was only ahead 1-0 at halftime on a goal from senior forward Mimi Hyre, and the players knew they needed more to put the game out of reach.

The Titans had plenty of opportunities in the first period, but the break proved crucial, as they tallied additional goals from Claire Bilodeau and Alex Milliken within five minutes of the restart. The eventual 3-0 win over the Atoms extended T.C.’s winning streak to six games, prior to their away game against West Potomac on Wednesday evening, played after the Times’ print deadline.

And in spite of a slow start, where the hosts dominated but could not convert their chances, the Titans were delighted to keep their run going.

“I thought we played really well, especially in the second half,” Milliken said. “We had a lot of shots on goal, [and] we didn’t let them get a corner whatsoever. I was happy with how the team played. We were talking a lot, had a lot of good passing combinations and, overall, I thought we gelled and were dominating the whole time.”

The win improved the Titans’ record this season to 10-1, with their only loss coming away against Herndon in late August. Head coach William Heresniak attributes their success to having a deep roster that has managed to cope with injuries to key players.

“It’s great when I’ve got people coming in off the bench and filling in spots and whatnot, even with a couple of injuries that we have,” he said. “I don’t have two starters right now, who are normally on my starting roster, so even with them being injured we’re still solid, which, as a coaching staff, you couldn’t ask for more.”

From the players’ perspective, it has been an exciting time to be involved in the program. The Titans look like a real force in the Patriot Conference and have conceded just two goals all season, led by goalkeeper Sarah Leckman. With 10 seniors on the roster, there is plenty of experience, and that has stood the Titans in good stead.

“I’ve been on varsity three years and we’ve never had a season like this,” said Milliken. “Going into the season I really wasn’t expecting this, but so far, we’ve been playing great. We haven’t let down and have come back from some really tough [deficits]. Against Lake Braddock we were down 1-0 going into the second half and we came back and won [2-1]. I think our team’s just got a lot of heart and we want to win.”

“We have a saying that losing isn’t an option,” added Hyre. “We said that in our halftime meeting with Lake Braddock, and we came out and scored two goals again in the first 10 minutes. I think losing isn’t an option this year; we’re really trying hard to go all the way.”

With just five games left in the regular season, including Wednesday’s game at West Potomac, the Titans are setting themselves up for a strong end to the season, even with the prospect of facing a South County team that beat the Atoms 11-0 last week. The players are confident, but know they have to stay sharp in the closing stages of their conference schedule.

“I think a lot of focus in practice is key,” Milliken said. “Then just communicating on the field, because the second we start communicating we gel and work together. Our team’s gotten really close this season, which I think also helps, because we all know how each other plays and will cover for each other and talk.”

Heresniak also emphasized the need for focus among his players, and said he is determined to see his side not get too carried away with their winning ways.

“We’re pretty grounded,” he said. “The thing that — always as a coach — you have in the back of your mind is they’re teenagers. They’re not professional athletes. You’ve got to keep them focused; have fun, but we take it one game at a time. It’s one after the other after the other. Their focus is the same way.”

And while the Titans are not getting too ahead of themselves, their current run of form has attracted some attention and may have them dreaming of a deep postseason run. Heresniak says the onus is on his players to make these wins count and use them as a springboard for playoff success.

“It’s up to them,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to. How bad do they want it? A lot of the girls on the team, they have goals set as individuals and we have goals set as a team, and it depends on how bad they want that and how far we can go.”

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