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Last-minute goal does in Lady Cavs

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Fall, 1-0, to Loudoun County

By Mike Forster

  "Is there a doctor in the house?"

As the Jefferson Forest Lady Cavs began their State semifinal game, that call went out over the Radford stadium speakers. 

Dr. Tom Eppes, the JF goalkeepers coach, left the field in response to the request.

As Eppes tended to a stricken fan in the stands, he had little reason for concern about what was transpiring on the pitch.  After all, Allie Gossen, who started between the pipes, turned in what may have been the finest game of her career.

Still, it wasn't enough.  Loudoun County topped the Lady Cavs, courtesy of a last-minute goal, the only scoring of the entire contest.

The win sent the Lady Cavs home empty-handed, the second consecutive year the team has fallen in the State semifinals.

Loudoun County, meanwhile, fell to Woodgrove, 3-0, in the final.  By the way, that was the fifth meeting of the year between the Dulles District rivals.  Woodgrove won 'em all.

Loudoun County certainly had to work its way past JF to get that shot in the finals.  The two teams put on a nice show of defense.  

Gossen made a save in the opening two minutes of the match, which seemed to build her confidence.  "The early shots helped settle things," said the determined, yet affable, keeper.  "I love having more opportunities and prefer more action although, for a team, that's not great."

Gossen was plenty busy, as she made a dozen saves.  One memorable sequence took place with two minutes remaining in the first half.  Having deflected one shot, the ball bounced back to a Raider, who booted it just as Gossen was lifting herself off the turf.  She managed to get a forearm on the blast, sending it skittering away to a harmless spot.

"Allie is playing very well lately," said JF Head Coach Stan Golon.  "It was important that she play a big game today, and she did."

Don't think, however, that Gossen was a one-woman show.  The Lady Cav backline conspired to slow down the high-octane Raider offense.

Lauren Vann, Alyssa Mitchell, Jessica O'Bryant and Anna Carter proved to be stout on defense.

When Carter shifted up to midfield, Kathryn Grachan plugged nicely into the defensive mix, showing great tenacity.

"We didn't know a lot about them," said O'Bryant.  "But we stuck to our original plan (on how to defend them)."

That plan worked well for the Lady Cavs until there were three and a half minutes remaining on the clock.

That's when Emma Sieber launched a throw-in toward the Cav goal.  As the ball bounced in the box, Gossen's clearing kick deflected off Emma Sieber.  The loose ball was reined in by Emily Littell who drove it home for the lead.

That lead had to survive a furious last-minute rush by the Lady Cavs.  But the Loudoun County defense, which only allowed four shots on goal for the day, was more than up to the task.

 

Aftermath

The 1-0 defeat is bound to sting for a long time.  It was an especially bitter pill for JF's four seniors:  Carter, Lauren Nicholas, Becki Blue and Ashlyn Davidson.

"We played really well, with a lot of heart," said Nicholas, who will play soccer at Liberty University next year.  "The whole meaning of our team is playing with heart."

There can be little doubt that Nicholas and company played with heart.

"It just wasn't out day," said Coach Golon.  "We had a hard time finding our rhythm.  Sometimes you just need that first goal."

In this case, Golon would have settled for the game's second goal.  Alas, it never came, and the season ended prematurely.  "Even with 23 games, I haven't had enough time with these girls," said Gossen.