Girls’ soccer: Senior Taylor Kerxton lifts Battlefield past Yorktown in Virginia AAA quarterfinal

Taylor Kerxton had seen this script before — the senior and her Battlefield teammates trailing and scrapping for momentum in the Virginia AAA state quarterfinals. Known for her halftime words of wisdom, the goalkeeper reminded the Bobcats that if they failed to pick up their intensity in Tuesday’s second half against Yorktown, six seniors would walk off their home field in disappointment for the second straight year.

Sixty minutes later, with the contest down to a shootout, the onus rested on Kerxton to heed her own message. Punctuating an impressive performance in goal, Kerxton stopped all five of Yorktown’s shots while Becca Callison netted the decisive score to lift Battlefield to a 1-0 victory on penalty kicks in Haymarket after the teams played to a 1-1 tie. The Bobcats will face Cox in Friday’s semifinals at Westfield.

“Taylor was amazing and made some big saves,” Bobcats Coach Kevin Hilton said. “We only made one penalty kick but I guess if T.K. is blocking shots like that, it’s okay.”

Yorktown (19-3) didn’t make it easy for Kerxton. The Patriots peppered the goal with shots in the first half behind speedy forward Meghan Flynn, who connected on the game’s first score in the sixth minute. While the Bobcats also found open space on offense, their 10 first-half attempts either sailed high or into the hands of goalie Monica Thom.

Following Kerxton’s halftime speech, Battlefield (20-1) came out stronger and with more precision. Off a feed from Callison just outside the middle of the Yorktown box, Bri Toelle launched a left-footed laser that found the back of the net, tying the score in the 47th minute.

In the shootout, each goalie blocked the opponent’s first three attempts before Battlefield knocked a shot off the post and Yorktown sailed its fourth attempt high. Up last for Battlefield stepped Callison, who prides herself on finishing penalty kicks, just as she did Tuesday by booting the winner into the right corner.

That shifted the pressure to Kerxton, who dove low for the save on Yorktown’s final attempt and her 18th save of the night.

“I just try to get in their heads a little and look at their eyes to get a feel for where they might go,” Kerxton said. “I knew it was all on me trying to make the stop in the end, which kind of pumped me up. I didn’t want my senior season to end in a loss on our home field like that.”

CHANTILLY COMES UP SHORT: Following a six-game win streak that yielded Concorde District and Northern Region crowns, the Chargers (14-3-3) saw their postseason run end with a 2-0 loss to Colonial Forge in a Virginia AAA state quarterfinal. The Eagles rode two first-half goals and strong play from its defense and goalie to shut down Chantilly’s speedy offensive attack.

“They were just the better team tonight,” Chargers Coach Melissa Bibbee said. “We just couldn’t get going, couldn’t get in the flow and that was really on us. It’s not that we didn’t create opportunities; we did. We were just a little off all night at the wrong time.”

WOODGROVE TRIUMPHS: The Wolverines’ defense of their AA state title didn’t start as planned, with Courtland scoring the first goal six minutes into the contest. But Woodgrove (19-5-1) responded with two quick goals to pave the way for a 3-1 victory in a state quarterfinal. Sarah Hardison netted her 13th goal in the last six games to tie the game before Brittany Basinger scored off a corner near the end of the first half. Ashley Bonner extended the lead for good off a rebound shot midway through the second half. The Wolverines will play Salem in Friday’s semifinals at Radford.

BRIAR WOODS ROLLS: Behind a few offensive adjustments to counter Jamestown’s packed-in defense, the Falcons (18-4-1) cruised to a 3-0 win at home in a Virginia AA state quarterfinal. Ten minutes in, Elizabeth Reid scored off an Emma Quirk cross, which was followed later by a McKensey Ziegler header off a Carly Melkus assist just before halftime. The final goal started with a Rayven Conner cross and ended with Alexis Haycraft volleying a shot into the net in a way that Falcons Coach Ann Vierkorn called “unbelievable.”

The Falcons will play Blacksburg in Friday’s semifinals at Radford.

GEORGE MASON DOMINATES: The talk in recent weeks among the Mustangs (20-4) has focused on stealing the momentum early in games. Tuesday saw George Mason deliver, scoring five goals in the first 20 minutes to open up a 10-0 rout. Camille Rice had a hat trick while Ava Roth added two scores to advance George Mason to Friday’s semifinal against Radford.

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