The crowd at Thursday’s Virginia 6A North region championship was the largest T.C. Williams’ junior Eryk Williamson had ever played in front of, and nearly everyone in the home bleachers rose to their feet and let out a collective “ooh” when Williamson crossed a Washington-Lee defender near the net early in the second half.
As he approached the box, they fell silent again, and then the crowd rocked the stadium after Williamson crossed up a charging goalie and tapped the ball into the empty net. It could have been the sweetest sound Williamson had ever heard — if only he had heard it. Williamson was in his own zone Thursday.
Hundreds had filled the stands to see one of the most anticipated region title games in recent memory, and instead ended up witnessing the best performance of Williamson’s high school career. He scored four goals and added an assist to lead T.C. Williams to a dominant 5-2 win over Washington-Lee in Alexandria, giving the Titans their first region title since 1975. Moreover, the Titans (17-2) picked up considerable steam heading into next week’s 6A state tournament, their first trip since 2002.
“Getting a hat trick just felt amazing,” Williamson said. “Then I had another opportunity and I felt like I just had to put it away.”
The win also ended Washington-Lee’s (17-1-3) bid for an unbeaten season, and it came about a month after the Generals had embarrassed the Titans 4-0 on the same field. Thursday worked in reverse. Williamson’s speed was an issue all day for Washington-Lee, and T.C. Williams took a 1-0 lead five minutes in after their star perfectly placed a corner kick for a Kalaeb Ferede header in the box.
Williamson made it 2-0 in the 13th minute on a fast-break, and his header late in the half pushed the lead to 3-0 at intermission. T.C. Williams had made several shifts in personnel in preparation for Washington-Lee, which has been an offensive juggernaut behind sophomore sensation Maycol Nunez (37 goals).
The team’s second leading scorer, forward Akable Miezan, played on the back line Thursday, and the Generals had only one legitimate scoring opportunity in the first 20 minutes. And although Washington-Lee received goals from Roger Rojas and Noah Goodkind in the second half, Nunez came off the pitch after receiving a second-half red card for knocking down a T.C. player and the comeback bid fell short.
Williamson, meanwhile, scored his third and fourth goals in the second half to put the game away. It was the first four-goal game of his high school career, and he enters next Friday’s 6A state semifinals with goals in five of his last six games.
“This gives a lot of motivation,” Williamson said, “to thinking we can win it all.”
After game, Nunez approached him at midfield to give Williamson a hug and congratulate him. It was a sportsmanlike gesture from the area’s most prolific scorer, recognizing the rarity of Williamson’s performance.
“He’s been unbelievable all year,” T.C. Williams Coach Marty Nickley said of Williamson. “That was a magical performance.”