Prep soccer: Late surge lifts Winfield girls past GW
WINFIELD, W.Va. - For 67 minutes Tuesday's clash between two of Class AAA girls soccer's heavyweights - Winfield and George Washington - appeared headed toward a scoreless draw.
It was in the final 13 minutes, however, that the Generals showed why they are the defending state champions. Winfield scored three times during that span to earn a 3-0 win against the Patriots.
The Generals (6-0-0) outplayed GW (3-0-1) for most of the first half, outshooting the Patriots 5-1 and dominating possession. Generals coach Marshall Hoff said his team initially was out of sorts but calmed down and started making the right decisions on the pitch.
"We were out of our game style a little bit at the beginning and got to banging the ball," he said. "That's a good team so you get excited and get a little bit riding on your mind."
GW, last season's state runner-up to Winfield, appeared to take control of the momentum early in the second half, with multiple chances that ended either one pass short or with a shot wide of the goal.
When GW's attempts to break the tie failed, Winfield's fitness level came into play late as the Generals seemed to have something left in the tank when the Patriot players were showing signs of fatigue. On Winfield's first goal the Generals worked the ball down the left side and played a cross into the goal area. GW goalkeeper Olivia Miller deflected the ball but it bounced to Winfield senior Josee Erlandson, who finished with a soft touch to open the scoring.
"We settled a little bit (early in the game) and conditioning always plays a factor," Hoff said. "Conditioned players are going to make good decisions. We knew we needed to get the ball on the ground and needed to get back into our game style. Once we did some doors started opening."
Less than a minute later GW defender Kasey Ellis was called for a handball in the penalty area, leading to a Jayne Lawman penalty kick that beat Miller to give Winfield a 2-0 advantage. Sophomore MacKenzie Pritt closed the scoring with 1:51 to play with an assist from an Erlandson shot the deflected off the crossbar.
"Our girls are out of shape," GW coach Megan Johnson said. "That's what it was. As much as I've been working them hard and running them, it wasn't quite enough. I told the girls this is the beginning of the season so it's good to make mistakes now because sectionals, regionals, states - that's when it matters. This was a lesson for them."
When these teams met in the state championship game last season at Schoenbaum Stadium, they battled to a 2-2 tie through the end of regulation before the Generals found the goal twice for a 4-2 win and the first state title for the program since 1997. On Tuesday the teams looked every bit equals until the final 10 minutes.
"They're a good team," Hoff said. "You'll need 80 minutes to try and find one on a good team."
Winfield goalkeeper Braiden Maddox was not called on often Tuesday. The senior only had to make one save, which was a testament to the Generals defense forcing GW to take less than ideal shots that rarely required Maddox to make a play. On the other end, Miller turned away six shots in net for the Patriots before Winfield started poking holes in the GW defense late. For the game Winfield outshot GW 11 to 3.
"I'm glad we played Winfield so early in the season," Johnson said. "This is where I can fix things that need to be worked on."
GW's next game is a home contest scheduled for Thursday against Nitro. Winfield also returns to action Thursday with the Generals scheduled to visit Riverside.
Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at email@example.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.