By the time the dust had settled at the Northern Region Soccer Tournament last weekend, a bit of local soccer history had been made.
The Jefferson High School girls became the first team to win the regional championship two years in a row. In fact, the Colonials became the only team ever to win the crown twice.
And South Lakes High School, just three years old and in its second varsity season, became the youngest team to claim the boys' regional title.
Because of the steadily improving quality of high school soccer in Northern Virginia, neither school had an easy time en route to their respective titles.
Jefferson coach Kevin Kelly, his face still tense following his team's 1-0 victory over Langley, summed up the tough road to the championship: "All season long, teams have played their best against us because we were the champions. We had some injuries. We had to pull toegether. There's been a lot of pressure, but the girls came through."
A little over two hours later, following South Lakes' 2-0 victory over Annandale, South Lakes coach Tim Isaacs knew how Kelly felt. "Maybe now I can finally keep something in my stomach," Isaacs said. "The pressure this week has been terrible."
The coaches might not love the pressure, but the crowd of about 1,000 fans did. They were treated to two games that combined the speed, skill and physical contact that make soccer one of the world's most popular sports.
In the girl's game, Jefferson's defense, outstanding all session, dug in hard following a goal by Pam Romano early in the second half. Romano scored on a pass from Cindy Crump, who was assigned double duty for the night.
"Cindy had to play Susie Cobb (of Langley) man-to-man," Kelly said, explaining his plan to contain Langley's leading offensive player. "But we need Cindy on offense, too. So she had to go both ways, and she really came through for us."
Crump and fullbacks Rosie Werner and Sandy Stollmeyer turned back several Langley attacks, including some furious charges late in the game. Langely, 3-2 winners over Jefferson in the regular season, became the Colonials 10th shutout victim of the year.
At the final whistle, coach Kelly jumped high into the air and sprinted onto the field to share the victorious shouts of his team.
A few minutes later, a happy Kelly let out the news that should make a few opponents tremble: "I won't lose one player to graduation this year. They'll all be back."
Not only will opponents be seeing more of Jefferson's tough defense, but they will be met again by offensive leaders Romano (25 goals), Crump (14 goals) and Stollmeyer (28 goals and 18 assists).
While Jefferson was showing off its strength, the boys from South Lakes, the newest soccer team on the Northern Virginia high school circuit, were flexing their muscles and playing like veterans.
The most besieged player on the field was Annandale goalie Mike Dougherty, who came under increased pressure from South Lakes steady passing game.
Though there was no score at half time, South Lakes had threatened to score several times, while Annandale's attacks were being turned back by the South Lakes fullbacks, particularly sophomore Tony Dickson.
In his half-time talk to his team, South Lakes' Issacs told his Seahawks to stop attacking down the center of the field so often.
"Give the ball to the wings sooner," he said. "Stretch them (Annandale) out. It will pull their center fullback out and give us more room in the middle."
Less than a minute into the second half, Mark Brahms, the Seahawks' left halfback, crossed the ball to Darren Von Behren on the right wing.Von Behren, who at half time had told his teammates to "give me a chance to beat my man," narrowly missed the shot.
But the half-time strategy was set into action, and 18 minutes later it paid off. South Lakes' fullback, Ian Williams, crossed a long ball to Von Behren, who jumped and headed the ball past Dougherty. South Lakes had a 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, with Annandale concentrating on wings Von Behren and Chris Falk, South Lakes found the middle open.Center forward Phil Pratzner took a pass, but had his shot deflected by Dougherty. A minute later, South Lakes center halfback Victor Davis sent a kick shot too high. But the pressure was clearly on Annandale from all angles, and with a little under 17 minutes to play, South Lakes' backup center forward Larry Rogers scored the game's second and final goal.
Rogers' goal was set up by Von Behren, who faked the fullback guarding him into thinking he was going to drive the ball wide. Instead, Von Behren cut inside the defender and passed inside to Rogers for the score.
South Lakes defense keyed on Annandale's outstanding striker Brian Vernon, who scored 30 goals this season. Isaac assigned midfilder Jimmy Broughman to cover Vernon one-on-one, and Broughman literally stayed at Vernon's shoulder, even during breaks in the action.
South Lakes finished the season with 13 wins, two losses and one tie. The team, which scored 70 goals while allowing only 20, had four players with 10 goals or more -- Davis, Pratnzer, Von Behren and Falk.
didn't take long for South Lakes to start enjoying being champions. With the regional trophy held high, the team took a victory lap around the track, then returned to the locker rooms to push a fully clothed Isaacs into the shower, before going out to celebrate over pizza, soft drinks and victory cake. CAPTION:
Pictures 1 through 3, It was a weekend of fierce soccer competition, and Langleyd and South Lakes high schools came out on top in the Northern Region Soccer Tournament. Jefferson High, in the dark jerseys, and Langley High battle it out on the field, while Phil Pratzner, a forward for South Lakes, out runs an Annandale player. South Lakes coach Tim Isaccs.; Picture 4, The South Lakes High School soccer team after winning the championship. Photos By Vanessa Barnes Hillian -- The Washington Post