By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (June 4, 2016) — When Loudoun County High School senior Hailey Shaw controlled a deflection off the Salem High School goalkeeper and saw the back of a wide open net in double overtime of the VHSL 4A West region championship on June 3 in Leesburg, she had one thought on her mind: focus.
Shaw did just that connecting on the Lady Raiders’ first goal in nearly 40 minutes as Loudoun County claimed the region crown defeating the Spartans, 3-2.
“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 was definitely one of the best goalies we’ve played this season,” Shaw said. “We had to focus on keeping our shots down and in the corners because she was getting everything. We could have had four or more goals if she wasn’t in the net.”
The Lady 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 Lady 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,” Loudoun County head coach Kirk 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,” Salem head coach Josh 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.”
While Salem seemed to have fresher legs and the momentum, Loudoun County never panicked and continued to put pressure on the Spartans.
“We don’t panic when we get scored on. We scored enough in the season and in the conference tournament to know that our goals are going to come,” Smith said. “As long as we keep that mentality and don’t start panicking and getting on each other, we’ll be alright.”
Shaw made sure not to panic when she collected Brown’s shot off Farrell in the 89th-minute to score and seal the deal for the Lady Raiders: the 2016 VHSL 4A West region champions.
Even with the loss, Salem will advance to the VHSL 4A state tournament where they’ll play VHSL 4A East champion Monacan High School in a state semifinal.
“Hats off to Loudoun County; they’re a heck of a team, and obviously, the reigning state champions,” Jones said. “It’s a relief that we know that we get to continue on and that we’re not out. We just have to regroup and prepare for next weekend. That’s all we can do at this point.”
Loudoun County will have a chance to defend their 2015 VHSL 4A state championship when they play in a VHSL 4A state semifinal against Courtland High School next weekend 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