The Oakton field hockey team secured second place in the Concorde District, allowing them to skip to the district semifinals, with a 3-0 win over Chantilly on Wednesday.
With second-place on the line, the Cougars and Chargers battled through the first half. The game remained scoreless until Oakton senior Melissa Shebat knocked in the first goal on an assist from Jennifer Prosser with less than two minutes left in the half.
The Cougars leaped ahead with two more goals — one from Shebat and the other from junior Catherine Miller — a minute apart from each other midway through the second half.
"We just came out with a lot of intensity," Shebat said. "It was our Senior Night and we really wanted second place, so that pumped us even more. Being second place is awesome because we started out as kind of the underdogs, and now we've proved ourselves in the district."
The win is the Cougars' first over the Chargers since 2008.
Before the game, the Cougars celebrated their 11 senior players and managers — the first graduating class under Coach Kaitlin Fleischmann — with a ceremony.
"I was telling them before the game they're such a unique group of girls. Very intelligent girls, on and off the field," Fleischmann said. "I couldn't be more proud of the hard work, dedication, time, effort, bumps, bruises, everything they've put into this season."
The Cougars end the regular season with a 9-7 overall record and a 4-1 record in the Concorde District. Last season, the Cougars entered the district tournament in second place and fell short of the district title with a 7-1 loss to Westfield.
But the Cougars believe this season will be different, as the team has proven it can defy the odds. At the start of the season, the Cougars had the task of unifying an inexperienced team after graduating its strongest players in June.
"I'm pumped for postseason. I think we're going to do really well," Shebat said. "I think we've become a really good team and postseason will definitely show it."
The Cougars will add five standout players from the junior varsity squad, which finished its season undefeated.
"We definitely have depth, a large roster, going into the postseason. I feel confident," Fleischmann said. "The girls are peaking at the right time. They're positive. They're ready."