RADFORD, Va. — As Woodgrove prepared to break off from its team huddle and make one final defense of its Virginia AA girls’ soccer state title Sunday, Brittany Basinger and Bergen Elkjer offered a simple message.
“Hey, let’s score early,” the two seniors exhorted their teammates, both well aware of the relentless opponent awaiting them in Dulles District rival Briar Woods.
When Elkjer scored 38 seconds later, it took both teams by surprise, puncturing the hopes of an upstart Briar Woods squad while propelling the Wolverines to a 2-0 victory and their second straight championship at Radford’s Patrick D. Cupp Stadium.
“Playing Briar Woods for the fourth time this season, we knew they were one of our toughest opponents, so we thought whoever put the ball in the net first would have the game in hand,” Elkjer said. “We probably didn’t think it would come that quickly, but that was big for us.”
Elkjer’s early goal — a rebound shot off a Victoria Perry corner kick — continued a postseason onslaught that saw Woodgrove win nine of 10 games and outscore opponents, 30-6. The Wolverines’ lone loss in that stretch came to Briar Woods in the Region II championship, making Sunday another intense chapter in their young rivalry.
To combat the Falcons’ strength in the midfield, Woodgrove shifted its aggressive defense forward, limiting Briar Woods to just two shots on goal.
Meantime, Woodgrove created scoring opportunities off eight corner kicks and several through balls, prodding a stingy Briar Woods defense that had held its last five opponents scoreless.
Just before halftime, the Wolverines (20-5-1) broke through for another goal after a long throw-in found Ashley Bonner, who booted in a close-range shot.
The Falcons (19-5-1) had a bit more daylight in the second half, but their shots either sailed high or were punched away by senior goalie Maggie Buxton.
“Me and our defense just tried to recognize early how they were attacking us,” Buxton said, “and our outside backs did a good job of covering their forwards on the edges.”
After Buxton knocked away a Briar Woods corner kick and the final whistle sounded, the Wolverines swarmed together in jubilation before taking a slew of pictures with their newest trophy. This year, the celebration included Basinger, who had to hurry away after last season’s title because of her U.S. women’s youth national team commitment.
“The best part is getting to enjoy this with my teammates because we have relied on each other for so long, especially this season,” the All-Met senior said. “This year, we were kind of the underdog, but everyone stepped up to help us reach this point again.”