When Westfield’s second-team all-region forward Heather Hovanesian went down in the Bulldogs’ Northern Region girls soccer quarterfinal matchup with Madison, Westfield lost both a senior leader and their leading scorer. When sophomore Brittany Bonzano took Hovanesian’s place on the field, however, the Bulldogs gained a key component in their 2-0 victory over the Warhawks on Thursday night at Madison High School.
Bonzano scored the Bulldogs’ first goal in the 27th minute and assisted on their second in the 50th to help lead the Bulldogs to their first Northern Region Final Four appearance in the program’s history.
“Heather went down, but what we wanted to do with the ball and how we played We didn’t change that,” said Westfield head coach Chris Godart. “We have a lot of talent and a lot of people that can step off the bench and help us.”
Hovanesian went down clutching her knee in the game’s seventh minute and had to be carried off the field. The senior forward, who has 18 goals for the Bulldogs this season, was fitted with a temporary cast on the sideline.
“They knew she wasn’t good enough to get back in,” said Godart of Hovanesian’s injury. “After that, it’s [time to] go to the doctor and figure it out.”
<b>DESPITE THE LOSS</b>, the Bulldogs maintained pressure on the Warhawks’ net, breaking through with 13 minutes left in the first half when a defensive miscue left the ball bouncing in Madison’s box. When senior goalkeeper Grace Rosales bobbled the ball, Bonzano was there to poke the ball into the net for the eventual game winner.
“I just ran through the ball and scored,” said Bonzano. “The goalie bobbled it and I just hit it in.”
At the start of the second half, with Westfield holding a 1-0 lead, the Warhawks suffered a major injury of their own. In the 41st minute, Madison’s leading scorer, Sara Diggs received a gash on her forehead and missed 14 minutes of the second half as the trainers on the sideline worked to patch her up. The senior midfielder, who led the Warhawks with 17 goals heading into the game, including four in the postseason, returned in the 55th minute. But, she was unable to get a shot off for the remainder of the game.
The Bulldogs added an insurance goal with 10 minutes left in the game when Bonzano drew Rosales out of the box and crossed to junior forward Lauren Diggs for an easy goal.
“[We had] two defensive mistakes. We should be in overtime right now,” said Madison head coach Kurt Kuykendall after the game. “Full credit for them for taking their chances, but right now we should be in overtime.”
<b>THE LOSS ENDED </b>an impressive season for the Warhawks (11-6), who won their first district title since 1994.
“We won 11 games. Not bad. A lot of teams would be happy to do that,” said Kuykendall. “It was a very successful season for a young team with a bright future.”
The Bulldogs (11-3-4), on the other had, are in what Godart calls “new territory,” advancing to the region semifinals for the first time. This year’s region semifinals, however, looks quite a bit like the Concorde District semifinals of last week, with all four Concorde teams advancing to the round of four.
Centreville upset Stone Bridge, while Chantilly and Concorde champ Robinson each advanced. The Bulldogs will face neighborhood-rival Centreville on Wednesday night at South County. Westfield tied Centreville on April 17, 1-1, and beat the Wildcats, 1-0, on May 14.
A win over Centreville could mean a third matchup against Robinson, who is the only team to beat the Bulldogs since March 27. Robinson beat Westfield, 2-1, in the regular season and by that same score in the Concorde District finals.
“We would love to see them again,” said Godart of Robinson. “That means that we will meet in the finals. I am all right with that. It doesn’t matter who shows up.”