When the final seconds had expired in Park View's 3-1 victory over Potomac Falls on Monday night in a Dulles District boys' soccer semifinal, senior De Monh ran straight to Coach Jeff Willingham to congratulate him on the Patriots' berth in the Region II playoffs.
"One of his goals is to get to the region tournament," Monh said, "and I told him we'd get him there."
With a couple of impressive plays to make up for a shaky start, Monh delivered the Patriots to the district championship game against Broad Run yesterday. The Spartans defeated visiting Stone Bridge, 1-0, in overtime in the first semifinal Monday.
Park View (11-4-1) is going to the region playoffs for the first time since 2001 and for the first time in Willingham's three-year tenure, largely because of its near mastery this season against Potomac Falls (12-3-3). In three games this season against the Panthers, the Patriots were 2-0-1.
"I guess we just have their number," Willingham said. "I think they [Park View's players] just have a lot of heart; they have a will to win. I told them that they may not have the skills that some of the other teams have, but they have more heart than any two teams in this district combined."
Monh missed a penalty kick in the second minute of the game but quickly made up for it, scoring a goal on the right side of the net in the sixth minute. In the final minute of the first half, Monh's perfect pass off a free kick sailed over the defense right to sophomore Diego Salazar, who scored to give the Patriots a 2-0 halftime lead.
"I think most of [Potomac Falls's] players thought I was going to shoot, but then Diego got open and I made the pass," Monh said.
In the second half, the Patriots got a nice goal from Danis Santamaria, who began the year as a junior varsity player and has been nursing an injured back for much of the time since being promoted to varsity. Santamaria's tough 20-yard shot found its way into the top of the net.
The Patriots are limited to three substitutes because of a rash of injuries, but as Santamaria showed, the small roster is still delivering.
"Danis's back is still hurting, and he only played about 10 minutes today," Willingham said. "But he got me a goal in that 10 minutes; there's not much else you can ask for."
With Broad Run (16-1-1) having clinched a region berth by virtue of its regular season title, its game Monday had far more importance for Stone Bridge (7-7-3), which needed to win the tournament to advance.
As a result, despite being outmatched by the skilled Spartans, the Bulldogs played intensely for the whole game, which lasted 97 scoreless minutes before Adam McDaniel assisted Brian Peters on the game-winner.
Broad Run had numerous opportunities to score throughout the game but never converted, in large part because of Stone Bridge senior goalkeeper Robbie Batchelder.
"It seemed like every free kick, every corner kick, the ball would bounce around the box," Peters said. "But [overtime] is a situation we've been in before. We know how to handle it, and it showed today."