The Loudoun County High School girls soccer team didn't do anything special to prepare for its appearance in the first Group AA tournament. In fact, the Raiders didn't do anything -- like, say, practice -- to prepare for Tuesday's quarterfinal against visiting Massaponax.
That certainly didn't affect the Raiders, who thoroughly dominated the Region I runner-up, 4-0, in front of a lively crowd in Leesburg. Loudoun County (17-4) advances to the Group AA semifinals and will face Blacksburg at Cave Spring Junior High School in Roanoke tomorrow at 4 p.m.
In Williamsburg, Loudoun Valley ended its season with a 1-0 loss to Region I champion Jamestown (14-3). It was the first time this season that the Vikings failed to score a goal. Loudoun Valley, which swept the Northwestern District regular season and tournament titles, finished with a 17-3-1 record.
Loudoun County and Loudoun Valley battled for 98 intense minutes Friday in the Region II final before the Raiders won, 2-1, in sudden death. Following that emotional game -- the Raiders' 20th of the season -- Loudoun County Coach Scott Cray decided his players could use a few days of rest.
"We haven't played since Friday," Cray said. "I know that a lot of the girls play tournaments [during Memorial Day weekend], and I just thought it would be good for them to get away for a few days. In the end, I think it helped us."
There was no letdown Tuesday, as Loudoun County outshot the Panthers 30-4 (15-1 in the first half). Massaponax didn't manage its first shot on goal until eight minutes remained in the first half.
"We didn't even think about a letdown" from Friday, senior Meagan Horner said. "We wanted to keep the big ol' train moving. There was no question about losing -- we weren't going to lose."
The Raiders scored first, in the 13th minute, when junior Jennifer Lapetoda put away the rebound of a hard shot by Horner. Loudoun County pushed the score to 3-0 with two goals in the first five minutes of the second half: Freshman Whitney Mercer made a nice cross to sophomore Tara Kidwell, who easily beat Panthers goalkeeper Adrienne Ward. One minute later, freshman Erin Rowley carried the ball down the right side of the field and hit a high shot that tucked under the crossbar for her first goal of the season.
Kidwell finished the scoring with her 26th goal of the year. A Massaponax defender misplayed a cross by Loudoun County senior Merrie Tobler, Kidwell picked up the loose ball and dribbled in alone against Ward, and then beat the goalkeeper with a low shot into the corner. The Raiders have outscored their opponents 69-20 this season.
"I think that [Lapetoda's early goal] got things rolling and maybe gave us some confidence," Horner said. "Then the gates just opened and it was like, yeah, we've got this game."
Massaponax (12-5-1) 0 0 -- 0
Loudoun County (17-4) 1 3 -- 4
GOALS -- LC: Lapetoda 13th minute, Kidwell 42nd, Rowley 43rd, Kidwell 68th.
ASSISTS -- LC: Horner, Kidwell, Mercer, Tobler.
SHOTS -- M: 4; LC: 30.
SAVES -- M: Ward 12; LC: Kelly 3.
CAPTION: Massaponax's Jen Greenfield, left, tries to head ball Tuesday as Jennifer Lapetoda moves in for Raiders, who had 30-4 advantage in shots, including 15-1 in first half.
CAPTION: Massaponax's Christine Tharp, left, tries to get to the ball as Tracy Higgins closes for Loudoun County, which advanced to semifinals in first Group AA tournament.
CAPTION: Tracy Higgins (16) chases ball with teammate Jennifer Lapetoda, right, who scored in 13th minute to give Raiders 1-0 lead.