Charlottesville hockey survives, advances

For video of the closing seconds of this match, click here.

Make no mistake about it. Getting Caroline Clark back in the lineup – she’d been out recently due to illness — is huge for Charlottesville’s defense.

And the Black Knights needed every bit of the leadership she provides right away Tuesday night in the Conference 23 semifinals.

“She’s always talking to us and she’s very positive,” said CHS coach Lindsay Larson. “Caroline leads back there and she really did a great job tonight.”

Clark steadied the Black Knights’ back line through several harrowing opportunities for Western Albemarle in a narrow 1-0 win for CHS.

“Our defense was solid today I was so impressed especially after our game yesterday when we were a little shaky,” said CHS senior Kendall Ballard. “But we got Caroline back finally and I was just so happy with the way that everyone played today, it was a total team effort.”

Perhaps the biggest test for the Black Knights came in the first half after Ballard was relegated to the bench for 10 minutes after a yellow card and further action from the official. Without Ballard though CHS proved up to the task, escaping the half unscathed while leading 1-0. Joanna Kammauff’s monster save on a Western short corner chance just before the break was critical to maintaining the lead.

The Black Knights’ lone goal came on an early Ballard chance where she took a pass from Kendall Dowdell when she was wide open inside the circle. A couple of flicks of the stick later and it was 1-0 CHS.

Western Albemarle managed to hold the Black Knights scoreless the rest of the game, but couldn’t break through against the CHS defense. The Warriors got one last chance in the closing seconds on an un-timed short corner, but a shot sailed out of bounds to the right of the goal.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Western coach Milo Oakland. “They’re all obviously upset but to see the transformation from our first two scrimmages where we really didn’t look strong at all and then they flipped a switch early on. It made my job kind of easy.”

The Black Knights advance to take on James Monroe Thursday night in the Conference 23 final. They’ve also already earned a berth in the Region 4A North tournament. Monticello High lost to James Monroe Tuesday night on the road 5-0.