As the rain came at Stone Bridge on Thursday, a wave of joy surged through Murielle Tiernan. Rainy conditions make for perfect soccer weather, as far as the Bulldogs senior forward was concerned, which is why she did her best to ignore the faint rumbles of thunder during the first half of Stone Bridge’s Virginia AAA Northern Region quarterfinal contest against South County.
“One of the other defenders kept asking me if I heard that thunder and I said no,” Tiernan said. “We live right by Dulles Airport with planes flying by all the time, so I just said it was a plane.”
But as the rain came harder and Stone Bridge built an early lead, Tiernan’s delight turned to disappointment. Following a 40-minute lightning delay during halftime that left mud puddles throughout the field, the referees deemed the field unplayable, awarding a 3-1 victory to Stone Bridge after one half of play in Ashburn.
Virginia High School League rules state that after a full half of play, a soccer game can be ruled a complete contest. The coaches called around to see if turf fields were available to resume play Friday but scheduling conflicts resulted in the decision to call the contest final.
“We wanted to keep playing because, even though we were winning, you don’t want to end a game like that,” said Tiernan, who scored one of the Bulldogs’ three goals. “I feel so bad for them because we’ve been on the other side of this situation.”
In the 2011 Northern Region quarterfinal against Chantilly, the Bulldogs trailed 3-1 midway through the second half when lightning and poor field conditions led the contest to be called early.
“It’s really unfortunate that the field determines the outcome of the game,” South County Coach Jean Coder said. “Stone Bridge is a very good team, but I feel like we had got something going in the first half and by correcting a few things at halftime, we could have responded. But now I have nine seniors who are really disappointed and feel a little cheated.”
The Bulldogs put together a strong offensive performance in the first half, beginning with Carson Cyphers’s goal on a 15-yard shot in the game’s fifth minute. But the Stallions, who were without star junior Andi Sullivan due to U.S. under-20 women’s national team obligations, responded. Kristina Diana got South County on board by gathering a loose ball in the backfield for a close-range goal that tied the score in the 11th minute.
Speed and precise passing put Stone Bridge back in control. Tiernan faked a shot before switching to her left foot for a goal into the left side of the net. And in the 32nd minute, Emily Person threaded a pinpoint pass to the middle of the field for Ashley Herndon, who scored her 101st career goal for the Bulldogs.
“Once we score early, it really pumps all of us up and you can feel the chemistry spread throughout the field,” Cyphers said. “It’s great to win but we feel bad for South County because we know it’s the worst feeling in the world to have your season end like that.”
In other Northen Region girls’ soccer action, Yorktown beat Westfield, 2-0, to advance to Wednesday’s semifinal, where the Patriots will travel to play Stone Bridge. On the other side of the bracket, W.T. Woodson beat McLean, 3-0, behind two goals from Kaitlyn McCurdy, while Chantilly cruised past Washington-Lee for a 5-0 victory. Chantilly will host W.T. Woodson in Wednesday’s other region semifinal.