LADUE • Kate O’Connell could only imagine what it felt like. First as a player and now in her third season as coach, O’Connell never knew the joy of hoisting the Midwest Field Hockey Tournament championship trophy.
Saturday she found out her imagination is no match for reality.
Third-seeded Lafayette smothered Cor Jesu 2-0 to win the state championship at John Burroughs. It’s the first title for Lafayette, which became just the fourth public school and first since Edwardsville in 1988 to win the 34-year-old tournament.
"It's amazing," said O'Connell, the 2003 Post-Dispatch All-Metro Player of the Year. "I've been waiting forever for this. For the last 10 years I've wanted to win state. My girls are just so awesome."
It was a double-good day for Lafayette, which also won the state volleyball championship played in Cape Girardeau.
The Lafayette field hockey team opened the season with a loss at Cor Jesu. It went on to win 22 straight matches. The Lancers powered their way to the championship behind a suffocating defense that didn’t allow a goal in its four tournament matches and just 11 all season.
Cor Jesu (20-3) earned its top seed in large part because of its prolific offense. The Chargers hadn't been shutout since their second match of the season. Lafayette put the clamps on, frustrating Cor Jesu at every turn.
"That's a great team," Cor Jesu coach Liz Fox said. "They kept everyone behind the ball."
The Lancers struck first when standout forward Kate Barber connected on a penalty corner midway through the first half. Barber finished her junior season with an eye-popping 27 goals and 35 assists, far and away the best output of any one player this season.
"I wouldn't want to be here with any other group of girls," Barber said. "I think all the heart and drive is what made us win."
In the second half Cor Jesu was more aggressive in its attack. After their best offensive push of the match Lafayette caught the Chargers in transition. Senior Monica Carron knocked in the insurance goal with just over 20 minutes to play.
Mary Beth Shearn earned the shutout, her 14th of the season.
"It was a team effort," O'Connell said. "Defensively I thought we were phenomenal."