With time winding down in the second of two full-time overtime periods, Loudoun County High School senior Hailey Shaw collected a rebound off the Salem High School goalie and found the back of the net as the Raiders overcame a Spartans comeback to win 3-2 and claim the 4A West Region girls’ soccer championship June 3 in Leesburg.
“We were ecstatic, but you have to try at some point to keep it calm because they’re a good team. They might take just 30 seconds to strike back,” Loudoun County head coach Kirk Smith said. “As much as we wanted to celebrate, we had to get our captains on the field to settle everybody down.”
Shaw – one of the Raiders’ captains – knew she and her teammates had to focus as the clock wound down because of the offensive weapons Salem had displayed throughout the game.
“All I was thinking was just to really focus. I know we had to finish it off because we had all the momentum moving forward,” Shaw said. “Allyson and Taylor had pushed it really hard so I knew I had to get up the field as fast as I could to help finish the game.”
Throughout the night, Loudoun County junior Allyson Brown and freshman Taylor Kibble had run an offensive game of speed and finesse, pounding the ball at Salem keeper Hannah Farrell who time after time came up with big saves.
“She made a lot of great saves. They have a lot of girls who can really rip the ball over there, and they took some really good shots at her,” Salem head coach Josh Jones said. “I thought her reactions were pretty good tonight, and she was in good positioning. She made some pretty big saves for us.”
The Raiders did slip three goals past Farrell starting in the 15th-minute when Loudoun County sophomore Sabrina Gillis scored from 25 yards out to give her team an early 1-0 lead.
Brown added to the Raiders’ lead when she found the back of the net in the 53rd-minute, but the two-goal lead was short-lived as the Spartans found their answer.
Just two minutes after Browns’ goal, Salem sophomore Evyn Magenbauer scored off a Spartans corner kick as Salem took back some of Loudoun County’s momentum.
“We gave them way too many set pieces, corner kicks and long throw ins which are basically corner kicks. Of course, that’s momentum,” Smith said. “They gained that momentum for a while. The game other than that was back and forth.”
As the Loudoun County offense continued to pressure Farrell and the Spartans’ defense, Salem forward Ellie Laub used a quick counterattack to even things out with 13 minutes left in regulation.
“Our girls just kept plugging away. When you get down 2-0, you can either quit or you can keep fighting,” Jones said. “I thought we did a pretty decent job of hanging in there. We had some things work out for us on the offensive end that kept us in the game.”
But as the second overtime period neared completion, the Loudoun County offense proved to put up too much of a fight for the Spartans as Shaw scored in the 89th-minute to seal the deal for the Raiders.
Even with the loss, Salem will advance to the VHSL Group 4A state tournament where the Spartans will play 4A East champion Monacan in a state semifinal.
“It’s a relief that we know that we get to continue on and that we’re not out,” Jones said. “We just have to regroup and prepare for next weekend. That’s all we can do at this point.”
Loudoun County will aim to move a step closer to defending its 2015 VHSL 4A state championship when it plays in a 4A state semifinal June 10 against Courtland at Liberty University.
“We’re very excited and very confident, too. Just the talent on this team, I feel like we’re the best team in the state,” Shaw said. “With everyone we have, there’s no way we can’t do well. We just have to play our game and stay confident.”
15’ LC Sabrina Gillis
53’ LC Allyson Brown
55’ S Evyn Magenbauer
67’ S Ellie Laub
89’ LC Hailey Shaw