Oakdale’s field hockey program has been through its share of ups and downs since school opened in 2010, enjoying limited success. But the Bears never had that breakthrough year, when winning was consistent and the team was in contention for a regional championship.
All that changed Wednesday.
Under second-year coach Aly Dudley, Oakdale has played consistent, hard-nosed field hockey, breaking through with its first regional championship by blanking Linganore 3-0 in the Class 2A West Region II title game at Oakdale.
“We’ve never gotten this far before,” said Oakdale senior attack Taylor Hardesty, who had two goals in Wednesday’s game. “The coaches have pushed us to be our best every day.”
Dudley, who played field hockey at Francis Scott Key High and Washington College, said it didn’t take long for the Bears (11-3) to buy into her coaching philosophy of hard work and dedication to the game.
“They’ve really come together,” Dudley said. “To see how they ground it out during the offseason and playing club field hockey has really impressed me. They were always showing up for these extra workouts.”
Oakdale advances to the Class 2A state quarterfinals either Friday or Saturday at Oakdale, Bears athletic director Chris Krivos said. The Bears’ opponent has not be determined.
Wednesday’s regional championship was a bonus for Dudley, who has grown as a coach, along with her team.
“My sister, who was helping out with the girls lacrosse program, told me the former head coach was moving on,” Dudley said. “I started thinking how much I would love to coach.”
Oakdale’s losses this year were twice to Urbana — one of which was in the Central Maryland Conference championship game — and once to private school field hockey power Mount de Sales. Those games went a long way in preparing the Bears to play at a higher level.
Oakdale defeated Linganore 2-1 in overtime during the regular season. Senior Emma McGaha remembers how well the Lancers sprinted to the loose balls.
“They’d always go after those 50-50 balls,” she said. “We knew in this game we had to watch out for that and take advantage of free hits.”
The Bears’ offense kept Linganore pinned in its defensive third of the field for most of the game. Two quick goals in the first 11 minutes of the game gave Oakdale the momentum it needed.
Kiersten Hoffmann took a feed off a penalty corner, then fired in a short-range shot with 21 minutes, 24 seconds to go in the first half. Two minutes later, Hardesty took a pass from Allison Grunwell and made her move toward the Linganore goal.
“I charged toward the cage and lifted the shot through the goalie’s legs,” Hardesty said.
Then, at the 12:33 mark, she scored her second goal of the game.
“I took a pass from Emma on the fast break, then made the move toward the goal,” Hardesty said. “Everything’s coming together at the right time.”
Oakdale outshot Linganore 8-2. Lilly Murphy earned the shutout in goal for the Bears.