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It used to be, girls soccer was fairly predictable. Lord Botetourt and Staunton River were dominant. As were Jefferson Forest, Glass and Liberty.
Teams such as Northside and Amherst played second fiddle.
After this past weekend, none of those preconceived notions seem to make sense. Especially as they pertain to the local girls soccer teams.
At the start of the season, conventional wisdom had Liberty and Staunton River in the hunt for their respective titles.
It also had Lord Botetourt as one of the dominant teams of Region III.
Well, over the course of four days, the following happened.
Liberty took Lord Botetourt to the very end of the second overtime before falling to the Lady Cavs, 1-0.
Then, the Minettes went out and got beaten by Amherst, 3-1. The Lancers were expected to be a middle-of-the-pack team.
On that same Friday night, Staunton River was topped by Northside.
Liberty seems to still be wrestling with the injury bug. “It’s hard to get things established and get a rhythm going when we don’t know who we’ll have available to play,” said Liberty Head Coach Jeff Steele.
For the Amherst match, Steele only had 14 players, one of which was a call-up from the JV.
Steele is judicious in dealing with his farm team. “I only want to take the right player, when I absolutely need her.”
In this case, the move looked pretty smart. That JV call-up was Mariel Messier. She assumed she was playing in the JV tilt. Minutes before the JV was to kick-off, she got the tap.
As it turns out, Messier scored the lone Liberty goal, on a cross from Kat Abbott.
As to the Lord Bot game, Steele was emphatic. “That’s the way we CAN play, when we have the right people in the right places,” he said.
Defense was the key to this one, with Kara Harrison leading the way from the stopper position, which she clearly owns.
Staunton River, meanwhile, looks unlikely to get any free passes from its Blue Ridge sisters. “Northside is a very good team,” acknowledged SR Head Coach Kenneth Young. “They are well-coached and play the game as it should be played.”
With Jodi Salyer and Rachel Kessler among the walking wounded, River still played it close.
Taylor Tester scored just before the half ended, when she pounced on an Afton McLaughlin direct kick. That made it 1-1.
The Vikings, however, rode the strong play of Emma Wade, who scored a pair of goals. Wade took 11 shots for the game. The rest of the team took seven.
Wade also set up the Northsiders third goal when her rebound was converted by Melanie Mirzayan.
The Eagles are now 0-1 in district play, as are the Minettes. Northside and Amherst are each 1-0.
Perhaps the great equilibration has begun.