Prep soccer: Winfield girls end state title drought
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - After two years of disappointment, the Winfield girls soccer team managed to end 15 years of frustration with a 4-2 overtime victory over George Washington to claim the Class AAA state title on Wednesday.
"We've been here for three years," Winfield (20-1-2) senior goalkeeper Faith Burchett said. "And it's been a long road."
But the sign along the road to the little Putnam County town - the sign marking its border -has a telling slogan underneath it.
In front of a boisterous crowd of more than 700 at Schoenbaum Stadium, Burchett and her teammates made sure that "The Town of Champions" still exists.
After winning the first three state championships in 1995, 1996, and 1997 and qualifying for the State Tournament the next two seasons "The Town of Champions" had been forced to rely on other sports.
Then came the heartbreak of the last two seasons.
In 2010, the Generals were eliminated with 17.4 seconds to play and last year they fell in the title game in a 3-2 shootout.
That was all erased Wednesday morning, but of course it would not be easy.
Freshman Mary Zulauf gave Winfield the lead in the fourth minute when she took a pass from Micha Rae Thompson and hit the net. Just a few minutes later senior scoring leader Emily Cole took advantage of a pair of defenders colliding to make it 2-0 and it looked like the Generals were on their way.
"We didn't match their intensity at the beginning of the game," George Washington Coach Derek Ragle said.
But the Patriots (18-5-1) defense tightened and managed to find the spark that led them to a 2-1 upset of top-ranked Morgantown Tuesday.
Senior Andrea Breeden beat the Winfield defense twice after the break to force overtime. She had not been much of a force during the regular season and seemed to catch everyone by surprise with her speed and accuracy.
"She missed about a month (due to injury)," Ragle said. "She had a couple of good games at the end of the season but they were on the road and did not get noticed much."
Breeden's first goal came less than four minutes into the second half and gave George Washington new life. The second came with 13:35 to play and seemed to signal a momentum shift.
This time Winfield recovered.
Cole barely missed the game-winner when her 20-yard shot just missed the upper left corner of the goal with less than a minute to play.
The squads then battled through a scoreless first overtime period.
Then, in the second 10-minute overtime period, sophomore Jayne Lawman took over.
She blew past the Patriots and beat keeper Olivia Miller one-on-one a mere 40 seconds into the half to make the score 3-2.
Just 65 seconds later, with 8:15 to play, she did it again.
"They are great at capitalizing on every opportunity they get," Miller said. "They were extremely well-placed shots."
After Lawman's second goal it was all the Winfield players and fans could do to restrain themselves until the end of the game.
"It's a great feeling," said Winfield Coach Marshall Hoff, the architect of the program's revival. "Second to none."
And, once again, the Winfield girls soccer team is just that.