— For the last few seasons, Warhill and Poquoson's field hockey teams have made a habit of meeting each other at least once in the postseason. The Islanders have beaten out the Lions for conference championships in each of the past two seasons.
The Conference 25 rivals could be on another collision course this season. Entering Tuesday's semifinals, second-seeded Warhill needed a win over Spotsylvania and top-seeded Poquoson needed a victory over Colonial Heights to set up another showdown on Thursday for the title. Wins Tuesday would also clinch regional berths for each squad.
The common denominator in recent years for Warhill in those matchups was a high-powered offensive attack led by twin standouts Kayla and Jessica Cooke, who are now freshmen on Newberry College's team along with Warhill graduate Haley Smith.
The rebuilding process continues for the Lions offense even this late in the season.
"We're still working at it," Warhill coach Kristen Boykin said. "We're still trying to find girls who are hungry enough to score. We're not scoring as much as we were last year, but I think we're playing really good defense throughout the field and passing really well. I don't think we lost that aspect of the game."
Warhill was dominant Monday in its 6-0 semifinal win over Southampton, the last game of a postseason tripleheader at Wanner Stadium. Jamestown and Lafayette preceded the Lions' win by advancing in the Conference 18 tournament.
Warhill got a pair of goals from Emma Locke and one each from Anna Hower, Casey Broady, Chloe Thompson, and Braelyn Lassiter.
Broady scored her 11th goal of the season while Lassiter, the team's most consistent playmaker, netted her eighth assist on the game's opening goal.
Locke made it 4-0 shortly before halftime on a rebound and Warhill ended the match by mercy rule with about 20 minutes to play in the second half.
Megan Cretney has six goals and four assists for Warhill and Braelyn's sister, Kaelyn, has been another top offensive performer with a few goals on the season.
Overall, the attack has been more balanced for the Lions, because it had to be.
Warhill closed the regular season last week with a win over Bruton before a close defeat to Smithfield, one Boykin thought the Lions played rather well in despite the loss.
"I'm totally impressed with the progress (Warhill) has made," the Lions' coach said.
If the progress is enough to earn a win Tuesday, Warhill will head back to the regionals, where the Lions were eliminated last season by Western Albemarle.
First could be the second meeting of the year with Poquoson. Warhill won the regular season matchup between the foes 1-0.
"It's been so tight between us," Braleyn Lassiter said. "It's been 1-0 every time, sometimes overtime, sometimes (decided in) the last 10 seconds. This year we beat them in our regular season, which was a really great win. Everybody plays their best against Poquoson. Definitely excited to play them this year."
Jamestown won the first game at Wanner Monday, 6-0 over Denbigh, and the third-seeded Eagles advanced to visit No. 2 Smithfield on Wednesday.
Lafayette also moved on to the semifinals of the Conference 18 tourney with an 8-0 win over Heritage. The fourth-seeded Rams will hit the road to face Grafton on Wednesday.
Molly Lee scored twice for Jamestown and Abby Smith, Casey Reeves, Julia Haupt, and Caroline Moniz also found the net. Smith, Savannah Gagne and Brigitte Hunnicutt added assists.
Lauren Walker scored three times for Lafayette, which also got goals from Devin Lucas, Carly Orlowksi, Laura Walker, Emaline Carr, and Meredith Pons. Brie Gillen, Kelsey Huckins, Avery Quarles, and Olivia Sears added assists, as did Walker, Lucas and Pons (2).
Bruton knocked off Northumberland 3-0 in the opening round of the 2A Conference 33 tourney before being eliminated 2-0 Tuesday by George Mason.
Neiko Zacharias, Shannon Cadwell and Alyssa Arbelli-Smith scored for Bruton Monday and Arbelli-Smith, Alexis Ryan, Vanessa Bujok and Caity Washam registered assists.
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.