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On the same sunny evening, both Forest soccer teams had their state championship aspirations quashed in heartbreaking fashion. The Cavs lost 1-0 to Northside, while the girls lost to Harrisonburg 2-1 in the third overtime period.
Cavs outhustled, outmuscled
It wasn?t supposed to end this way.
The Jefferson Forest boys? soccer team saw its clear shot to a state berth picked from its collective pocket by a quick and aggressive bunch from Northside.
The Vikings? lone goal, off a corner kick, was enough as their defense put on an admirable show in front of Blue Ridge District Player of the Year, goal keeper Adam Muncy.
?All I can say is, credit Northside,? said Cav Head Coach Jedd Zaring. ?They won too many of the balls...They just wanted it more.?
Northside displayed a level of physical aggression that, while commonplace in the Blue Ridge, is less so in the Seminole. The narrowness of the field (at William Byrd) served as a force multiplier for the Vikes, as the Cavs found it difficult to get their wide-open offensive sets into gear.
Northside, on the other hand, used a gun and run approach, hoping to exploit its speed. That is exactly what happened when, with three minutes remaining, Ryan Palmieri outran the left side of the Cav defense, setting up a corner kick by Jordan Rose. The ball boomed into the box where Aaron Darby, surrounded by a plethora of Cavs, somehow managed to get a foot on the ball, redirecting it past Cav keeper Scott Zaring.
Northside keeper Muncy, along with tough defenders Chris Atkins, Kaleb Lambert and Peter Scotto denied Forest at every turn. Although the Vikings picked up four yellow cards over the course of the game, the Northsiders took it all in stride. ?Our strategy is tough defense and to play hard,? said Viking Head Coach Jody Draper. ?They played their hearts out.?
?We were struggling the whole day,? lamented Zaring. ?We were like deer in the headlights.?
The win gives Northside its first trip to the state tournament in school history.
Golden goal fells Lady Cavs
The JF gals put forth a tremendous effort before being eliminated in sudden-death by Harrisonburg.
?We put it all out on the field,? said Head Coach Stan Golon. ?Those are the breaks of the game.?
The Harrisonburg game winner came on a corner kick when six-foot tall Liz Ross found some breathing space on the far post, heading in the game-winner off Julia Wilson?s feed.
Forest?s goal was scored by freshman Chelsea Hayes who flitted through the Harrisonburg back line, did a 180 degree turn and nailed a left footer behind the keeper.
Forest went with a four fullback set, inserting Jennifer Steele into the backfield. Steele, a tough senior who is unafraid of contact, did not disappoint.
?Jennifer played the game of her life, ?said Golon. ?She won so many balls.?
JF keeper Whitney Bonheim had 12 saves for evening. Neither Harrisonburg goal could be pinned on her, according to Golon.
The coach had warm words for his senior group: Jaime White, Brigid Benincasa, Brittany Gallagher, Bonheim and Steele. ?They are a great core,? he said.
?It was very emotional,? added Golon of the situation after the game. ?I?ve had them here for four years and really wanted (a trip to States) to happen for them.?
Eagles bow out in quarters
Staunton River seemed to have the upper edge in all aspects of its game with Lord Botetourt. All, that is, except in goals.
The Lady Cavs booted the Golden Eagles from Regional play by a score of 4-2.
Staunton River had more shots, 11-8 and controlled the tempo of the game.
While the Eagles finished up this season, just like last, with a loss in the quarters, there is at least one significant difference. Last season?s goal differential: -4. This year: +48.
This year, the team scored 67 goals and gave up 19 over 19 games. Keeper Moira Guzi and company registered 9 saves.
Overall, Coach Kenneth Young and team have reason to be quite pleased with their efforts this year.