Talk about stepping up in the postseason. That has been the case for Lake Braddock Secondary boys’ soccer player Matt Fraedrich, a senior midfielder who scored two regular season goals but has broken through for seven playoff scores over the past several weeks.
“He’s found his range,” said Bruins’ head coach Joe Soos.
Fraedrich, along with Lake Braddock fans, will never forget his most recent score, which proved to be the game-winner for the Bruins on Friday night in their 2-1 Northern Region title game win over Langley at Madison High School.
It marked the first time Lake Braddock has won the region crown since 2003 when the Bruins defeated West Springfield in the title game. Lake Braddock also made it to the region finals in 2006 but loss to Woodson.
Friday was a brilliant showcase of region championship soccer at Madison as both the girls’ and boys’ region title games were played on a brilliant, late spring evening/night. Prior to the boys’ game, the W.T. Woodson girls’ team scored a first half goal and went on to defeat McLean, 1-0. That was followed by the boys’ finals in which Lake Braddock overcame an early second half 1-0 deficit on way to defeating the Saxons.
Both Lake Braddock and Langley will advance to next week’s state AAA boys’ playoffs. On the girls’ side, both Woodson and McLean will represent the Northern Region at states.
FRAEDRICH scored perhaps the biggest goal of the season for Lake Braddock in its region title game win over the Saxons on Friday. The goal came off a short breakaway left, the result of a picture perfect up-field pass from teammate Tyler Dunn. Fraedrich received the pass behind the Langley defense, moved the ball forward on the dribble, then lifted a soft, touch shot over Jay Lupas, the charging Langley goalie. The ball went into the goal from about 18 yards out and put Lake Braddock ahead to stay, 2-1, with 11 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the second half.
“Obviously, it was a great strike,” said Soos, of the goal. “But the ball played into him [by Dunn] was just as important. Tyler dropped the ball over the defense where Matt could get to it. The ball was outstanding and Matt caught it in stride.”
Upon scoring, Fraedrich, in celebration, dashed up the field’s far sideline and took off his shirt, pointing triumphantly to the Bruins’ fans in the visitors’ side stadium bleachers. His teammates and the Bruin fandom were ecstatic at the clutch goal. However, Fraedrich was issued a yellow card for taking his jersey off. He also got a stern talking to by Soos, the Bruins’ head coach.
“He just got caught up in the moment,” said Soos. “He wasn’t trying to show up Langley.”
Fraedrich agreed afterwards that he should not have taken off his uniform top. Of the goal itself, he credited Dunn, a senior defender, for setting him up.
“Tyler is a great player and capable of playing the long ball at top and he did,” said Fraedrich, a Second Team All-Patriot District player this spring who will be playing the sport next school year at the University of Illinois. “He hit the ball over the top of the defense, and under my breath I said to myself, `Yes.’ I knew the keeper was coming out. At first I thought [my shot] was going over the goal and that I hit it too hard.” But it wasn’t too hard and went into the net. Seven minutes earlier, Fraedrich had missed a golden opportunity to score when his shot from 15 yards out off the right side on a short breakaway chance went wide right. But he didn’t miss a little while later on his chance off the left side, set up by Dunn’s pinpoint pass. It was the seventh goal of the postseason for Fraedrich, who said coach Soos, following the conclusion of the regular season a few weeks back, had motivated him to pick up his game during a coach-player conversation.
Following Friday’s win, Fraedrich expressed pride in what his team had accomplished. “I knew this team had the potential to go this far,” he said.
LANGLEY, following a scoreless first half, got onto the scoreboard less than seven minutes into the second half when senior midfielder/striker Dylan Price, off a gorgeous, long throw-in pass from the left side of the field by teammate Jeff Cochran, got himself free on the right side of the goal area and headed the ball into the right side of the net for a 1-0 Saxons’ lead with 33:25 remaining in the second half.
“I got some space and headed it into the corner,” said Price. Moments earlier, Price had barely missed scoring on a kick off the right side from 10 yards out.
“We were pressuring them, I poked it past the keeper and the ball went off the right post,” said Price, of the missed chance that ultimately did not matter when he punched in his header goal.
Amazingly, less than a minute after Langley scored, Lake Braddock came right back and answered with the equalizer when Bruin senior midfielder Elhadji Diouf, off his own rebound following a head shot attempt, scored on a scorching, close range shot off the left side to make the score 1-1. The goal was set up by a Lake Braddock throw-in ball.
Then, seven minutes later, Fraedrich came up with what proved to be the game-winner.
At game’s end when the final whistle blew, the Lake Braddock student body rushed the field and celebrated in unabashed enthusiasm with the Bruins’ players at midfield.
“I think our kids have shown a belief in themselves where they don’t quit and have grown closer and closer as the year has gone on,” said Soos, of his squad.
Price, the Langley striker, said his team would now look forward to making a strong run at states.
“This loss is tough,” he said. “But we have a lot of seniors and good leadership. I think we have just as good a chance as anyone at states.”
EARLIER ON FRIDAY, in the girls’ region championship, a score by Woodson’s Erin Havard within the first six-and-a-half minutes of the game held up in the Cavaliers’ 1-0 shutout victory over the Highlanders of McLean.
On the goal, Havard, a senior midfielder, received a pass from her left from teammate Brett Thomas. Then, from the left wing area of the field, Havard sent a solid, lofting shot off her left foot high into the right side of the McLean net from 30 yards out.
“Brett passed it to me and I one-touched it [to gain control],” said Havard, who is right-footed but scored the key goal with her left foot. “I hit it like I normally do. I like getting power on my shots. It looked like the goalie really reached for it.”
The ball went in and the Cavaliers had the early game momentum.
Late in the contest, the action was especially riveting over the final 15 minutes as both Woodson and McLean made rush after rush towards the opposing goal.
“The game was pretty well matched,” said Havard. “They’d go down the field and we’d come right back. It was back and forth. I held my breath [down the stretch] but I had confidence we’d hold on.”
McLean’s Kristina Bettner described the game as a “dog fight.”
“Both teams played as hard as they could,” said Bettner. “They got the early goal. I think this is one of the few games where we were down [on the scoreboard]. So it was a different mentality [being behind]. At first it was devastating. But then we calmed down.”
For Woodson, it was their first region crown since 2004.
“We haven’t won it in so long,” said Woodson forward/midfielder Elizabeth Gaski, a First Team All-Region selection this season. “It feels great to bring the title back to Woodson, especially for our seniors. I definitely though this would be the year we could do it.”