One goal turned out to be enough for the W.T. Woodson High girls' soccer team in its 1-0 Northern Region tournament title game victory over talented and determined McLean High last Friday, June 3. The finals contest was played on a brilliant, late spring night at James Madison High School in Vienna.
Both Woodson (14-2-3) and Mclean (14-4-2) were scheduled to compete at this week's eight-team state AAA tournament.
In the region title match, a Woodson first half goal by Erin Havard within the first six-and-a-half minutes of the game held up in the Cavaliers' shutout victory. 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."
Both teams made strong runs with the ball but only the one goal was scored over the 80 minutes of play. Most of McLean's shots on goal came on medium- to long-range shots which Woodson senior goalie Marlee Stynchula was able to corral.
Havard never really thought her early goal would be the only score of the game, but it was.
"At that point, no," she said. "It was so early in the game."
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."