Forest Park girls’ soccer tops Broad Run in Virginia AAA Northwest quarterfinal

As Forest Park prepared for the second half of Monday’s Virginia AAA Northwest Region girls’ soccer quarterfinal against Broad Run, one of the Bruins coaches reminded his players of the two words that have fueled this season: No regrets.

Though brief, the motto jolted Vanessa Kovar and her Bruins teammates, a bunch still stung by last year’s last-minute loss to Broad Run in the region tournament. Thanks to 19 shots on goal and two scores by Kovar, the Bruins exacted revenge on the Spartans with a 2-0 victory in Woodbridge. Forest Park will host Colonial Forge in Wednesday’s semifinal.

“When our coach said, ‘No regrets,’ that hit us, especially the seniors, because we didn’t want this to be our last half or lose like we did last year,” said Kovar, who will play at South Carolina next season. “We’ve sort of been a second-half team all season, so we were ready to come out strong and at a faster pace.”

Both teams had their share of scoring opportunities during a scoreless first half, with Broad Run’s Haley Casanova making four saves. But the second half brought a more aggressive Forest Park attack, leading to an Ashley Skertic pass that set up Kovar in front for the game’s first score in the 44th minute.

Forest Park (16-3-1) continued to control the tempo for much of the game’s final portion, using counter plays and ball movement to keep Broad Run’s defense on its heels.

“After we felt them out some in the first half, we played more possession style and for me, I felt relaxed,” Kovar said. “I told myself I could only control what I could control, and I just came out ready to make an impact.”

Kovar’s focus proved vital in closing out Broad Run (10-8-3), the defending state runner-up, which remained within striking distance until the 75th minute. That’s when Jessica Leonard one-timed a pass to Kovar, who faked left before firing a 10-yard shot into the left side of the goal.

“Broad Run knocked us out of the playoffs last year and they are a great team,” Bruins Coach Mark Malloy said. “We needed to overcome this challenge to continue building the confidence and momentum we need to make a deep playoff run.”

In other Northwest Region action, Battlefield shut out Woodbridge, 4-0, behind two goals from Bri Toelle and three assists by Sarai Arbus. The Bobcats advanced to face Albemarle, a 2-1 winner against Patriot.

In the first round of the AA Region II playoffs, Woodgrove downed Loudoun County, 6-2, and will travel to Western Albemarle for Tuesday’s quarterfinal. Meantime, Tuscarora defeated Sherando, 4-0, to set up a road quarterfinal game at Kettle Run.

Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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