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Yorktown’s Brunt Looking for Assertiveness

Patriots coach wants players to be more aggressive

The Yorktown girls soccer team won the game. But that didn’t mean head coach Vicky Brunt wanted to talk about it.

Yorktown defeated Mount Vernon 1-0 on April 16. The Patriots played similar to the evening rain which dampened the turf at Greenbrier Stadium — aggressive at times but not enough to impact the game. Yorktown controlled play for most of the evening, but lacked execution when it came time to capitalize in the form of goals. Senior forward Suzy Gordon scored Yorktown’s lone goal in the 15th minute, striking a sharp-angled ball from the right side past the Mount Vernon goalkeeper.

But, in Brunt’s eyes, the Patriots should have had a few more.

"I told you I didn’t want to relive this game," she said with a laugh while discussing the Patriots’ problems.

Brunt also said Yorktown’s performance against Mount Vernon was a bit of an anomaly. The Patriots were coming off an emotional 1-0 win over rival Washington-Lee on April 14 and might have experienced somewhat of a letdown. But while Yorktown has scored enough during the season to win or tie six of its first eight games, Brunt would like to see more individual aggression out of the at-times passive Patriots, who are shooting for their eighth district championship in nine years.

"What we need are those star-quality moments on the field," Brunt said. "I’m not talking about just scoring a goal, but changing the course of the game because they’ve taken on a little more responsibility. We’re such a team-oriented group that it’s like, ‘Oh no, here you go, you can do it.’ Sometimes we may get beat by a team that has one or two kids that have that will to take it into their own hands."

Gordon and junior forward Alice Jurkevics are Yorktown’s primary goal scorers. Brunt has told Jurkevics to be more of playmaker on the field and described her as a high-energy athlete. The coach moved Gordon from an outside mid to a forward last season.

"She has a great nose for the goal," Brunt said of Gordon. "If she gets the ball at her feet and she’s faced up she’s got a way to finish. She will score goals."

Gordon, the Patriots’ tallest player at 5-feet-8, also scored Yorktown’s lone goal against Washington-Lee.

"W-L is always trying to beat us and always trying to one-up us," she said, "and we’re just like, ‘Nope.’"

Center midfielders Stephanie Megas and Aidan Hitt and center back Logan Knowles comprise Yorktown’s trio of senior captains.

Knowles has "got a lot of experience in the back," Brunt said. "She’s calm, level-headed and composed and she’s trying to organize and keep players back there composed."

Eryn Hurley (OB), Maddie Meyer (OM) and Mary Karangelen (GK) are the Patriots’ other seniors. Sarah Little (OB), Alejandra Espinoza (CM/F), Ashley Stevens (OB/OM), Caitlyn Denkler (CB/OB) and Caroline Balshaw (CM) are the team’s other juniors. Gia Axiotis (CM/F), Melissa Hunt (OM), Dana Warnecke (GK) and Rachel Brooke (OB) are Yorktown’s sophomores and Innis Hitt (OB/OM), Sophie Frank (GK) and Elizabeth Oden (CM) are the team’s freshmen.

Yorktown travels to face Woodson at 7 p.m. on April 22. The Patriots’ next National District game is April 26 at home against Wakefield.

As Yorktown competes for yet another district title, Brunt, in her fourth season as head coach, said maintaining a relationship between expecting to win and working to win is key.

"The biggest thing for me this season has been balancing on that line of the kids expecting it and the kids wanting it," she said. "I feel, from the coach’s perspective, a lot more pressure. If we don’t produce that outcome, we have not lived up to our expectation. The standard’s been set. With each year I feel the other teams in the district do get a bit frustrated with us. We have a big target on our backs."

Knowles said as a marked team, continuous improvement is important toward matching each opponent’s best effort.

"We’re always moving forward to being the district champs," she said. "As the season progresses I can see it with the team — we’re more cohesive."