Virginia AAA girls' soccer semifinals
Stone Bridge wins, Loudoun Valley loses on penalty kicks in Virginia AAA girls' soccer semifinals
In what has become a recurring theme this season for No. 3 Stone Bridge, its phenomenal pair of freshman forwards, Ashley Herndon and Murielle Tiernan, lifted the Bulldogs to a victory with calm and efficient finishing in the Virginia AAA semifinals.
Herndon added to her single-season school record with goals number 26 and 27 and Tiernan added a goal and an assist as the Bulldogs rolled to a 4-0 victory over Cox (21-2-1) on Friday evening at Westfield.
Stone Bridge, which won a Virginia AA state title in 2005, will play for the AAA title for the first time. The Bulldogs (20-0-2) will face Cosby, which beat No. 2 Loudoun Valley on penalty kicks, at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Westfield.
After seeing the Stone Bridge boys fall behind early in their semifinal against Cox two hours prior to the girls' kickoff, the Bulldogs reversed that luck by scoring twice in the opening eight minutes.
"We knew that they have scored a lot early in the first minutes of the game so we wanted to come out" strong, Tiernan said. "They were really excited before the game so we just wanted to shut them up so we put them away early."
Herndon headed a pass from Tiernan over an onrushing goalkeeper and finished it at the far post in the fourth minute, and Tiernan did well to turn and put a shot over the goalkeeper's right shoulder four minutes later to set the tone for the match.
In the second half, the Bulldogs continued their dominance. Mixing in possession play with long passes that picked out their high-scoring duo up top, Stone Bridge got a goal from Herndon, who finished a rebound off a long free kick from Emily Fredrikson, in the 48th minute and then closed it out with Melissa Rodriguez's goal from a Tiernan cross in the 50th minute. . . .
Loudoun Valley couldn't capitalize on a series of second-half chances and fell to Richmond power Cosby on penalty kicks following a 1-1 tie.
Cosby's penalty-kick margin was 4-2, and senior Becca Wann played a huge role in its victory. The Richmond recruit was credited for a second-half goal when she forced in a deflection off the Vikings' goalkeeper. A Valley defender's attempted clear instead found her own net.
Wann went from midfield to goalkeeper for the penalty-kick session and turned away two Vikings attempts to send Cosby (19-2-1) into the final.
"It hurts to go out like this, in penalty kicks," Vikings Coach Kerry Davidson said. "We had our opportunities."
To get to the state semifinals, Loudoun Valley took an arduous road, working through the area's traditional powers including Battlefield, Woodbridge, Colonial Forge, Forest Park and Robinson, twice winning in penalty kicks.
Manning, who scored her 22nd goal, orchestrated several chances that went unfinished.
"We just took too long to start shooting," said Manning, who had six shots, three of them on goal. "We just weren't finding the back of the net like we usually do."