The Broad Run High girls’ soccer team did not allow for any uneasiness or latter game drama in its Region II title game against Dulles District rival Heritage last Saturday night at Park View High School.
Unlike the district championship game meeting between the two teams a couple weeks ago in which the defending state champion Spartans had waited until the contest’s final 18 minutes of play before getting onto the scoreboard on way to a victory, Broad Run left nothing to chance in the region finals meeting.
The Spartans dominated from start to finish in defeating Heritage, 3-0, to successfully defend last year’s region crown and enter this week’s state AA playoff tournament with all the momentum it could want.
"We played really well today, I was really impressed with them," said Broad Run coach Claire Collins, of her team. "They played a really good game — they connected with each other and were passing well. They’re so excited [for states] and ready to play."
The Spartans, in the win, received a hat trick (3 goals) from senior midfielder Holly King. She scored twice over the game’s first 20 minutes of play to help set the tone for the night. Then, her third goal less than 75 seconds into the second half effectively put the contest away.
"She’s just a fantastic person, a wonderful young lady and an unbelievable soccer player," said Collins, of team leader King. "As a soccer player [at Broad Run] she’s just gotten better and better. She’s fun to watch."
Broad Run (19-0-1), with the win over the Pride, was scheduled to host Jamestown High (Region I) of Williamsburg in a state quarterfinals round game earlier this week on Tuesday. The winner of that meeting advances to this Friday’s semifinals at Radford University. The state championship game is set for Saturday at Radford.
Broad Run is looking to become the first-ever state AA girls’ soccer team to win consecutive state championships. A year ago, the Spartans went 24-0 on way to the state crown.
<b>>BROAD RUN PRESSURED</b> the Heritage goal from the start of Saturday’s region finals game, rarely letting up throughout the 80 minutes of action. The game, originally set to be played a day earlier, had been postponed due to rain. When the contest did get played on Saturday, the weather was gorgeous and the Spartans were ready to play.
Less than 10 minutes into the game, King, off a corner kick assist from sophomore midfielder Whitney Church, scored on a header from the near post with 31 minutes, 43 seconds showing on the clock.
Earlier, in the minutes leading up to the game, Church had been practicing her corners, sending soft, lofting balls towards the front of the goal area. And in her team’s first goal, she did the same thing and King made it pay off with her close range score.
"I love playing with Whitney," said King, who had gone scoreless but played well in Broad Run’s 2-0 district finals win over Heritage on May 21. "She’s like my little sister. She knows exactly where I want the ball every time. [On the score] I came in from the side and got the ball down."
Less than 10 minutes later, King and senior forward Kelly Evans teamed for a beautiful score. King had started the scoring play with a pass out to the right wing area to Evans, who settled the ball and assessed the situation before scooting a pass back to King towards the middle. King then shot the ball in from 12 yards out for a goal that made the score 2-0.
That was the score at half.
"The first half we played really well," said Evans. "As soon as we get a first goal, we relax and just play the game."
<b>WHEN THE HERITAGE</b> squad returned to its bench area following the halftime break, the faithful Pride fans gave their players an encouraging round of applause. One player, not knowing what to make of it and realizing Heritage had played poorly over the first half, said to no one in particular, "Why are they cheering for us?"
Things did not get better for Heritage in the second half. Moments into the start-up of play, King scored her third goal — another header goal off a Church corner assist — to make it 3-0 Spartans.
Broad Run dominated most of the remainder of the game. Heritage’s best scoring chance came with just under seven minutes remaining when senior Ariane Kerestesy found herself alone with the ball from the left wing area. She immediately attempted to shoot on goal from 10 yards out. It appeared she would have an uncontested attempt, but Evans, seemingly out of nowhere, burst upon the scene to block the scoring attempt and put the ball out of danger.
Heritage never was able to find the net and Broad Run, behind solid play from its defense and senior goalie Caitlyn Hunter, earned the shutout win.
It marked the fourth time in as many games that Broad Run has defeated Heritage this season.
Broad Run, the top seed in the six-team region tournament field, had reached the finals with a 3-0 semifinals win over Charlottesville High on May 27 at Broad Run. The Spartans had received a first round bye.
Heritage (9-6-2), meanwhile, won games over Fluvanna County (Palmyra) and Brentsville District (Nokesville), both by 1-0 scores, to make it to the championship game. Heritage, despite the loss to the Spartans in the finals, still earned a seeding in the state tournament.
King was thrilled that Broad Run had earned another region title.
"It feels amazing, especially as a senior," said King. "You want to leave high school with great memories. Now at states, we’re playing at home. We’ve never played this team before."
Jamestown, the Spartans’ first round state opponent, lost in the Region I finals to Courtland (Spotsylvania) on penalty kicks.
Coach Collins said her eight seniors have been the catalyst to the Spartans’ success this spring.
"This senior group, everybody likes each other and everybody wants to play and win," she said. "The team chemistry is wonderful."