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The Wins Keep on Coming for Madison Girls’ Soccer

Warhawks have already recorded six shutout victories this spring.

A year ago, the Madison High girls’ soccer team was right on the brink of being one of the top teams in the Northern Region. But the Warhawks, it seemed, were just a step shy or one big goal away from becoming an elite club.

But all of the close losses and near misses from 2009 have turned into victories over this current 2010 season. Madison, following a 4-1 Liberty District home win over Jefferson this past Monday, May 3, carried a 10-1 overall record and continued its winning ways in a season which has seen the Warhawks emerge as a true region contender.

“I think this year as opposed to maybe last year they believe they can compete with any team in the region,” said Grant Massey, the Madison head coach. “Last year we lost [several] close games late. This year, the girls believe they can win those games.”

The ’09 Warhawks finished quite respectably with a record over the .500 mark. Madison reached the Liberty District semifinals before losing to Woodson. Then, at the 16-team regionals, the Warhawks saw their season end with a 2-1 first round loss to a Chantilly team that went on to capture both the region and state AAA titles.

“We gave Chantilly everything they could handle in that game,” recalled Massey.

Things have clicked this season for a talented, hard-working Madison team that has received outstanding senior leadership and played with a passion indicative of its desire to do great things this spring.

The Warhawks, who prior to the Jefferson game had not played since April 22 as a result of a bye week, are next scheduled to play a district road contest at South Lakes this Friday night, May 7 at 7 p.m. Then, next week, Madison will wrap up its regular season schedule with games against visiting Annandale on Tuesday, May 11, and at Marshall on Thursday, May 13. The district tournament will begin in two weeks.

Madison’s lone loss came on April 12 to visiting district opponent Stone Bridge, 3-1. Since then, Massey’s club has won three straight games – victories over Osbourn Park, 5-0, McLean, 4-2, and Jefferson.

Massey credits his four senior team captains with setting the tone for this winning campaign. Those players are midfielders Sami Kuykendall and Kate Murphy, and defenders Annmarie Irwin and Katie Grasso.

“All four have worked hard and are respected by the rest of the team,” said Massey, of the captains. “But also our five other seniors – who could also be captains – have shown leadership.”

Those other senior team members are midfielder Katie Suranovic, forward Allison Yeates, forward Colleen Dooley, defender Claire Krejci and midfielder Juli Myers.

“We have a good group of seniors this season,” said Massey. “They have a lot of fun but they know when it’s time to get serious about the game. All the players [on the team] get along and support and encourage one another.”

<b>MADISON</b>, 4-1 in the district, received first half scores from sophomore forward Shaydah Naraghi and Kuykendall, off a free kick assist by Murphy, to take a 2-0 halftime lead in Monday’s win over Jefferson. A goal by junior forward Belle Tunstall gave the Warhawks a 3-0 lead in the second half before the Colonials got onto the scoreboard with 12 minutes remaining to get within 3-1.

But with five minutes left, Madison’s Eliza Browning scored off a header shot to all but put the game out of reach. Browning, a junior midfielder, was the 11th Madison player to have scored a goal this season.

Madison, Massey said, is perhaps not as talented overall as some other teams in its district or across the region.

“Don’t get me wrong, though, we have good soccer players,” he elaborated. “They’re hard working and have been able to capitalize on opportunities and score.”

Seven of the team’s nine wins have come by shutout. Over 10 games, the Warhawks’ defense has allowed only six goals. Key defensive players have included Irwin, Krejci, Grasso and sophomore Vivian Le.

One of the team’s best seasons has come from junior goalie Nadia Shebaro, who started most of last year and has followed that up with a stellar current season.

“She’s been a pleasant surprise,” said Massey, of Shebaro’s play this season. “She doesn’t get too down and learns from her mistakes. She’s a very good shot blocker and makes good reaction saves. She understands the positioning of where she needs to be in relation to the rest of the team.”

On offense, Madison’s top scorers have been Tunstall (8 goals) and Kuykendall (6). Nine other players have found the net as well this season.

“We have pretty balanced scoring,” said Massey. “It has come from a lot of people.”

Four of Madison’s players have committed to play the sport at the collegiate level next year – Kuykendall (Virginia Commonwealth University), Irwin (Cornell University), Krejci (Cornell, as well) and Murphy (Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland).