Leesburg, Va. — When Woodgrove High School senior forward Katie Oliver received the pass from teammate Liz Marcheschi in front of the Loudoun County net, just one thing was running through her mind: don’t mess up.
With less than three minutes to play in the second overtime of the Dulles District championship game, the pressure was on. The Wolverines and Raiders had met twice in the regular season, both of those games ending in ties. But the district championship wasn’t going to end that way, and Oliver made sure of it.
The pass from Marcheschi found Oliver in front of the net, and Oliver connected to give the Wolverines their first lead of the game, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Woodgrove 2, Loudoun County 1.
“I was just begging not to mess up,” Oliver said. “Liz’s ball was so perfect, and I’m just so happy it went in.”
Having trailed for most of the second half, the Wolverines caught their break with ten minutes to play in regulation when junior midfielder Rachel Castro struck from 30 yards out to tie the game at 1-1.
“You just have to keep grinding,” Woodgrove head coach Pat Manno said. “Loudoun County is so disciplined, and they work so hard. So when you find your opportunities, you have to finish them.”
While it was the Wolverines’ offense that finally took advantage of the opportunity, Woodgrove’s defense put up a tremendous effort, holding a high-scoring Loudoun County team to less than two goals for just the second time this season: the first came in a 1-1 tie with Woodgrove on March 21.
“Loudoun County is such a good team. They have such a good history,” Manno said. “So to come out to their place, after tying twice in the regular season, and beat them, feels great. I’m really proud of this team.”
Loudoun County junior midfielder Sydney Schnell – who was just named the Dulles District Player of the Year –was able to open the scoring with just over two minutes left in the first half to give the Raiders the momentum heading into halftime.
Coming out of the half, both teams exchanged chances with neither finding success until Castro scored at the 70-minute mark. A sense of excitement – and relief – enthralled the Woodgrove sideline as the Wolverines found their second wind.
“We’ve really been working hard on our conditioning,” Manno said. “Towards the end, we decided we were going to play more offensively and launch some balls to get behind them, and it worked.”
Even with the win, Woodgrove will be the No. 2 seed out of the Dulles District and will travel to the Northwestern District champion on May 28. Despite losing, Loudoun County will host the Northwestern District runner up.
If Woodgrove and Loudoun County win their semifinal games, the Wolverines and Raiders will earn state tournament berths and meet again in the region championship.
“This has been our goal for so long,” Oliver said. “After tying three times with Loudoun County this year, we wanted to just push through the adversity, and we finally did it.”
|1H||2:20||Loudoun County||Sydney Schnell||0-1|