The drama that comes when two of the area’s top teams - who happen to be district and cross-town rivals – meet was on display in a big time way during the latter stages of Tuesday night’s girls’ high school soccer match between Chantilly and host team Centreville.
Yes, the compelling Concorde District matchup resulted in an unsatisfying 1-1 overtime tie. But both teams’ fervent play and the buzz created by the game’s dramatic unfolding made the evening’s contest feel more like a do or die playoff affair than a regular season outing.
“It was real intense,” said Chantilly High junior defender/forward Madyson Brown, who scored her team’s lone goal. “Both teams played very hard and wanted to beat each other.”
Throughout the night, the two squads, known for their outstanding defenses, tried to break though for decent scoring chances. They were hard to come by. So when Centreville’s Haley Yow, a freshman forward, scored from close range during a flurry of action in front of the net – the result of teammate Molly MacDonnell’s key crossing pass from the left corner of the field – it was not a stretch to think that the goal, tallied with 13 minutes, 36 seconds showing on the first half clock, might stand.
And it did for most of the rest of the game. But when it looked as if the Wildcats might come away with their seventh consecutive shutout win, Brown, Chantilly’s talented, versatile defender who at times is moved up-field to a forward position in order to give a spark to the Chargers’ offense, came up with a game-changing goal to notch the contest at 1-1 with 5:44 remaining in regulation.
Chantilly, which had struggled to get shots off throughout the game, had come alive late and was making some serious runs on the net.
A few minutes before her game-tying score, Brown, who a year ago as a sophomore was a key member of the Chargers’ state AAA title winning team, had broken free off the right side before sending a sizzling, 15-yard shot from the corner which Centreville goalie Ayana Teran, set up at the near post, barely blocked away to preserve her team’s lead.
But when Brown got another chance, she took full advantage and got the equalizer. She tracked down a short lead pass from sophomore midfielder Olivia Colella and, with two defenders right with her in the scoring circle area, found a way to lift a soft, short ranged floater over the goalies’ outstretched hands and into the net from close range. Chantilly, remarkably, had tied the match.
“Olivia headed it over the top of me, I ran it down and placed it in the right spot,” said Brown. “It looked like the goalie might get a hand on it.”
Centreville coach Gary Malebranche credited Brown with making a sensational play.
“She’s a great athlete and she finished,” he said.
<b>THE THRILLS</b> did not end there. Ultimately, the match went into two, five minute overtime sessions. As time was running down in the first five minutes, Centreville was making a hurried rush to get off a shot before time expired. The Wildcats, with the clock winding down, earned a corner shot. Yow quickly positioned the ball for the corner and sent it towards the front of the goal area. Then, just like that, freshman teammate Clara Logsdon headed the ball into the net for what appeared to be the go-ahead score with no time showing on the stadium clock.
The Centreville players celebrated the score and began preparing for the second five minute overtime session. The scoreboard read `2-1’ Centreville. But game officials conferred as coaches, players and fans from both teams awaited to see if the score would be allowed to stand.
The head game referee talked to both teams’ coaches before walking towards the home team sideline and motioning up towards the press box that the goal had not been allowed. The scoreboard changed the tally to 1-1 as home team Wildcat fans voiced their displeasure with loud boos that echoed throughout the stadium on the crisp, cool spring night.
Malebranche, the Centreville coach, said he was told by the head referee that time had run out as the corner ball hit Logsdon’s head in what turned out to be a phantom goal.
“He said the clock hit zero as the ball was on Clara’s head,” said Malebranche. “It’s disappointing because we had it. I’m proud of the way the girls played.”
Melissa Bibbee, the Chantilly coach, said she likely would have been upset if she was in Malebranche’s shoes.
“The rule says when the clock goes out, [the game’s] over,” said Bibbee. “But if that’s my team, I’m angry too.”
Jenna Richmond, Centreville’s senior standout forward, thought the Wildcats had taken the lead when Logsdon found the net during those frantic, closing seconds of the first five minute overtime.
“I was like, `hurry, hurry,’” said Richmond, aware that time was winding down as Centreville quickly set up the late corner quick try. “[Yow] hit it and I saw Clara finish it. It was very disappointing [when the score was disallowed]. We’d worked so hard. We finished our chance. For some reason they called [no goal].”
With the goal not allowed, the game’s second five minute session started up with the score still tied at 1-1. And that is how the match would end as neither team was able to score during the second five minute session. At the final whistle, both teams, certainly exhausted, crossed the field for the postgame handshakes.
“It’s just a different intensity whenever these teams play,” said Malebranche.
Added Centreville’s Richmond, “We brought it hard tonight and we knew they’d come out hard as well.”
Bibbee, her team still unbeaten this season, credited the Wildcats with playing a strong game.
“I think Centreville generated more offense in the first half,” she said. “In the second half we generated a few more counter attacks. They are a very strong team – one of the top five in the area.”
Centreville (7-2-2 overall, 2-1-1 district) will play at Edison (Alexandria) this Friday night at 7. Chantilly (8-0-2) will play again next Wednesday, May 5 when it travels to Stone Bridge High in Ashburn.