The Chantilly High girls' soccer team played postseason opponent W.T. Woodson fairly even over the first half of a Northern Region semifinals playoff contest on Wednesday, June 1 at Madison High School in Vienna.
But Woodson, early on in the second half, turned the game's momentum into its favor with a couple of quick goals and went on to defeat the Chargers, 3-0.
The contest, which took place on Madison's turf field, was played through on and off rain over the first 23 minutes of the game before skies cleared and the sun broke out.
The high-powered Cavaliers, the No. 2-seed from the Patriot District, were held in check by Chantilly over the first half before getting all three of their goals after the intermission.
"After a halftime talk, we knew we needed to get a goal early to set the tone for the second half," said Woodson senior midfielder Danielle King. "Chantilly is a great team but we wanted to show them we're just as good and maybe better."
The Woodson scores came from senior midfielder Erin Havard, junior forward/midfielder Elizabeth Gaski, and freshman forward Teresa Fruchterman. Gaski's goal - a header from close range - came off a corner kick from Havard and made the score 2-0 less than seven minutes into the half.
"It was just a great finish," said Woodson coach Warren Williams, of the goal off the corner. "Great [corner] kick, great finish."
Havard, a few minutes earlier, had scored the game's first goal less than four minutes into the second half when she sent a high, well-struck shot into the left side of the net from 28 yards off the right side.
"Erin, when she hits the ball, hits it real hard," said Williams. "She got the ball on frame. The goalie looked to be screened."
Fruchterman netted the game's final goal with 5 minutes, 30 seconds left off a breakaway in which Chantilly charging goal tender Lauren Mashinski nearly stopped the shot on a slide tackle attempt. But the ball trickled by the goalie and Fruchterman found herself with no one between herself and the goal. She caught up to the slow rolling ball and scooted it in from just in front of the goal line.
Woodson goalie Marlee Stynchula earned the win in the net for the Cavaliers.
The win put Woodson into the finals where the Cavaliers defeated McLean, 1-0, for the region crown on Friday, June 3 at Madison. The region finals appearance was the first for the Cavaliers since 2004 when they won both the region and state AAA crowns under then head coach Sean Burke.
Williams was thrilled with his team's latter half play versus Chantilly, the region champion two years ago.
"We got after Chantilly in the second half," said Williams. "We talked at halftime about how we had to get the ball wide and deep."
Woodson (14-2-3) reached the 16-team tournament finals with wins over Madison, Oakton, and now Chantilly, outscoring its opponents 7-0 over those three games.
"We've gotten better each game at regionals," said King. "We're definitely coming together as a team."
King, recently named the Region Player of the Year, will be playing collegiate soccer at Virginia Tech next school year.
"Honestly, it was very exciting to hear I got it," she said. "It's an honor."
CHANTILLY, with the semifinals loss, saw its season end at 10-5-2. The Chargers had beaten both Yorktown and Stone Bridge to reach the final four.
"We played amazing those first two wins," said Chantilly senior defender Madyson Brown, of the Chargers' 4-1 first round win over Yorktown and their 3-1 quarterfinals round win over Stone Bridge. "The loss to Woodson is disappointing. It's my senior year and I wanted us to go further."
Williams, the Woodson coach, said it was no easy thing breaking through a Chantilly defense consisting of such players as Brown and senior defender Elizabeth Casey.
"Both of those players are really good," said Williams.
Brown, who is set to play at James Madison University next year, was named to the First Team All-Region Team as a defender. Woodson players named to the First Team were Gaski (forward), King (midfield), and junior Jessica Ferarri (goalie). The All-Region First Team was announced following Wednesday's first semifinals game.