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Timid Play Catches Up to Yorktown

Head coach Brunt wants Patriots on the attack.

Yorktown head girls soccer coach Vicky Brunt stood on the field at Greenbrier Stadium on Monday night and said the Patriots needed to be more aggressive.

For 40 minutes, Yorktown’s level of play was good enough to force a scoreless tie against undefeated Woodson and led to praise from Cavaliers head coach Warren Williams. But with 20 minutes remaining in the second half, Woodson’s attacking style proved superior as the Cavaliers started peppering Yorktown goalkeeper Sophie Frank with shots. Eventually, in the 73rd minute, a Woodson free kick set up sophomore Cassidy Mercier for a goal and the Cavaliers held on for a 1-0 victory.

Yorktown lost several key seniors from last season’s team that finished runner-up in the National District. Brunt, in her fifth season as head coach, is trying to develop the youthful Patriots into a more aggressive-minded team, much like the Cavaliers that beat them Monday.

"I feel like we get caught on the reaction," Brunt said. "Now we’ve set back and let them win that first ball and now [we’re] going to defend them. We get caught back on our heels a little bit instead of, ‘We have all the support around me, I go in and try to be first and if I miss, I miss and I have somebody coming in behind me and helping me out.’ …

"I thought [the Cavaliers] dictated a lot of those 50-50 balls and challenges and they played very direct. They just kind of keep getting at it, keep hitting it forward, keep hitting it forward and if we’re not going to go in hard and try to anticipate those things [we’re going to struggle]."

Defensively, Yorktown broke Woodson’s four-game streak of scoring at least three goals.

"They defended real well," Williams said. "… Yorktown, they’re a really young team and I was impressed by them."

Senior forward Alice Jurkevics, junior forward Isabel Arnold, sophomore midfielder Innis Hitt and freshman midfielders Meghan Flynn and Emma Shumway have been Yorktown’s main offensive threats this season.

The loss to Woodson dropped Yorktown’s record to 4-5, but the Patriots have a 2-1 mark in the district. Yorktown defeated Stuart and Edison and lost to Washington-Lee, a 2-0 defeat on March 30.

Last season, W-L snapped the Patriots’ streak of district titles that stretched back before Brunt took over as head coach. While beating the Generals in March would have been ideal, Brunt said getting the rivalry game out of the way in the early going could help Yorktown focus on the bigger picture come district tournament time.

"We beat them in the [regular] season last year and our kids were so up for that game — the seniors, they got everybody really pumped — and it was later on in the season," Brunt said. "I tried as much as I could to not get them to solely focus on that game, but I felt we dropped way off after we got that win. … It was all they wanted. I was worried it was going to be hard to beat [W-L] a second time and, sure enough, they came here and beat us."

Yorktown will travel to face Wakefield at 7 p.m. on April 13.