Within a span of two days during the summer of 2012, Meghan Cox and Ashley Herndon committed to play soccer at James Madison. A few months later, the one-time club soccer teammates decided to room together once they set foot on the Harrisonburg campus.
The two-step for this duo continued over the past month as both earned Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week honors, marking a quick start for two of Northern Virginia’s top girls’ soccer players over the past four years.
Cox, a Lee alum, was the first to make waves for the Dukes, as she netted a goal in each of the team’s first two games to earn the award on Aug. 26. And this past week, Herndon joined her roommate after recording an assist and the game-winning score in a contest against Charlotte.
“It’s pretty awesome to do that as roommates,” Cox said in a Monday phone interview. “We’re competitive with each other and push each other, but at the same time, we support each other 100 percent as teammates. It’s a big deal for both of us to be doing well and I’d say I’ve been very happy with my roommate choice.”
Not surprisingly, the move up to the college ranks brought a few adjustments for Cox and Herndon, both of whom earned All-Met honors. Herndon, who shined at forward at Stone Bridge, has seen time as a starter at both the forward and midfield positions for JMU. Meantime, Cox, who played center back on defense for most of her career, is now starting at the center midfield spot, a position that calls for more running and provides a greater potential for shots on goal.
Granted, taking on a new role is nothing out of the ordinary for Cox. At Lee, she also served as the football team’s kicker before joining the softball team during the spring season of her senior year.
Cox’s athletic ability proved evident on her second career goal for the Dukes. After beating out a La Salle defender for a 50-50 ball, Cox fired a shot from about 35 yards out that ricocheted off the left post and sailed into the upper right portion of the net.
“I looked up and saw the goalie a little off the line, so I thought ‘Hey, why not?’” Cox recalled. “That goal will probably be one of the highlights from my four years at JMU because I couldn’t have placed it any more perfectly.”
Placement also played a role in Herndon’s first career score in the season opener. After Allie Bunner, another freshman who attended high school locally at Patriot and who assisted on Cox’s first goal, had a shot deflected by the Richmond goalie, Herndon attacked the ball rolling in front of her and scored.
While that goal was “special” for the most prolific scorer in Stone Bridge history, her most exciting score thus far came in last week’s win against Charlotte. In a display of sound defense and awareness, Herndon deflected a pass off her back, quickly gathered the ball behind her, and after taking one quick dribble to avoid two approaching defenders, she blasted a shot past the goalie for the go-ahead score in the game’s 60th minute.
Both girls credit their quick starts to a summer spent with the Washington Spirit Reserves, which serves as an amateur club team and feeder system for the professional squad. There, Cox and Herndon competed against older players and got a feel for the elevated level of play. The experience marked the second time the two were teammates after playing three years together on the VSA Heat club team.
“Playing with the Reserves got me used to the speed of play and we committed to JMU pretty early, so it was a matter of being prepared through club soccer and other competition,” Herndon said. “Now that we’re here and with how much we practice, it’s just a matter of working hard and making the most of the opportunity.”
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Check out the top plays from the week that was in football.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 330
Total rushing yards for top-ranked Good Counsel during last week’s 21-3 win against Calvert Hall. After losing tailback Leo Ekwoge to a season-ending knee injury in the opener, the Falcons have found a reliable backfield tandem in Chris Dawson and Perry Stefanelli.
-See who made the cut in this week’s All-Met Watch.
-Huntingtown was stripped of its 2012 SMAC football title after the MPSSAA denied the school’s appeal over its use of an ineligible player, Arnez Bowens, last season.
-DuVal shook up the Prince George’s 4A ranks with its upset of then-No. 5 and defending state champ Wise last week.
-Dunbar’s Malonta Patterson is working to back up his claim as the “best running back in the city.”
-After 11 losses in two years, Champe won its first home football game last Friday.
-Northwest is off to a fast start behind its unique two-quarterback system.
-Top-ranked South River used a late goal to hold off No. 6 Broadneck in Monday’s field hockey action.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
Boys’ Soccer: No. 3 Gonzaga (1-1) at No. 1 DeMatha (2-1), 4 p.m.
After having its 64-match regular season win streak snapped last week against Flint Hill, DeMatha will look to bounce back against rival Gonzaga.