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It's a shame it had to end this way.
My heart goes out to the Jefferson Forest girls' soccer team, just as it would have gone out to the Dominion squad had JF been the one to eke out the win.
And by "eke," I mean a margin so slim it makes the Olson twins look portly.
I'd like to write that the loss was heartbreaking. In fact, my original headline on the story included that term. But thinking back to the end of the match, as well as its immediate aftermath, the word seemed inappropriate.
Despite the fact that a bunch of teenage girls were defeated in a grueling contest on the biggest stage on which most will ever perform there was not a bit of drama garnered.
There were a few tears, to be sure. But the word that seemed to prevail was pride.
And, trust me: These girls absolutely deserved to hold their heads high; to comport themselves as the champions they nearly were.
Down by two goals in the game's opening minutes to a team which had decisively beaten them a mere week ago, these Lady Cavs just flat-out persevered.
When Dominion re-built its two-goal advantage less than a minute after JF had cut it in half, the Lady Cavs had every excuse to mail it in.
A few weeks ago, striker extaordinaire Cassidy Ratliff had told me she wanted her senior season to last forever.
She and her mates nearly made that a reality, going four overtimes and 30 penalty kicks long.
Katie Cousins, who was already on her way to play for Tennessee and is a stellar player on the U.S. National team, had no reason to play for JF than school pride and camaraderie. Yet, she played for the black and red. And played her heart out.
I heard she told her teammates after the game how pleased she was to have come back to the team.
Taylor Moore was pressed into duty when defender , and team captain, Lindsay Broman hurt her leg. Moore responded with aplomb, helping to stymie the high-octane Dominion assault.
These are but three of a roster of 23 standouts. Throughout the season, I saw nothing but support for one another.
I saw no petty jealousies. When a goal was scored, nobody seemed to care who did the scoring, only that JF had another tick on the tote board.
These girls worked hard, they played hard and they fought like the dickens.
Sure, they came up a wee bit short of taking that trophy.
But, they come away from this year together with so much more. The memories of this season will truly be with each of them the rest of the way, no matter the direction.
And I think these girls already understand that.