Fixtures in the Virginia AA girls' soccer tournament, Potomac Falls was left out a year ago. After three straight appearances in the state final from 2000 to '02, the Panthers were ousted in the Region II first round by Western Albemarle -- a loss so stinging that Potomac Falls Coach Kris Kelican carried it with him until the start of practice this spring.
"We didn't forget that," Kelican said. "I showed them the tape of that game and told them that we expect to be in the state tournament [again], and that we expect to do well."
The No. 7 Panthers made a strong return Tuesday with a one-sided, 5-0 victory over visiting Tabb in a state quarterfinal. The win earned Potomac Falls (20-1-2) a spot in the semifinals tomorrow against Abingdon.
"It's great to be back," Kelican said.
The victory over Tabb was as methodical and dominant as the Panthers have been in past first-round games in the state tournament. Potomac Falls has hosted Jamestown (2000), Tabb (2001 and '04) and York -- all members of the Bay Rivers District -- and outscored those teams by a combined 24-0.
Tuesday's game was hardly in much doubt from the start. The Panthers kept the ball in Tabb's end of the field for the vast majority of the game and created a host of quality scoring chances. Claire Grubbs had two goals, and Ashleigh Snook, Jenna Martin and Kathleen Bracken each had one.
Still, Snook said Potomac Falls can play better, which may not bode well for Abingdon and whichever team the Panthers might face in the state final on Saturday.
"I don't think we played as well as we'd like to," Snook said. "All good teams need to turn on the intensity. We've been struggling with that, but hopefully we'll find that when we go to Radford."
Broad Run Girls Advance
The Broad Run girls' soccer team bounced back after a rare loss for a 6-3 victory Tuesday over host Courtland in a Virginia AA quarterfinal. The Spartans had dropped a 1-0 decision against Potomac Falls last Friday in the Region II final, but their potent offense bailed them out Tuesday.
Fifth-ranked Broad Run (19-2-2) scored six times on 11 shots against the Cougars, pulling away in the second half that was a little more nerve-racking than Broad Run desired.
"Of course, a win is a win; I'm happy about that," Coach Claire Collins said. "But as a team, we did not play the way we can. We just weren't at our best."
Freshman Brianna Smith scored two goals as the Spartans advanced to the state semifinals for the third time in five years. They will face Hidden Valley/Virginia at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Radford University.
The trek from Ashburn to Spotsylvania took 21/2 hours on Tuesday, and Broad Run was not its sharpest during the first half against the pesky Cougars (19-1-1). Courtland had outscored opponents 126-8 before Tuesday.
Even though the Spartans took a 3-1 lead in the first 14 minutes of the game on goals by sophomore Tati Raffo, senior Erin May and junior Liz Frank, Courtland battled back. The Cougars matched Broad Run's intensity and physical play throughout the final 20 minutes of the half.
Freshman Wanda Noblin scored her second goal for the Cougars off a Stacy Fletcher corner kick, and Fletcher, a freshman, tied the game at 3 in the 30th minute by scoring off a 20-yard direct kick.
Broad Run surged after halftime for two quick goals. Sophomore Katie Starr scored off a corner kick in the second minute of the half, and five minutes later Smith collected a rebound and put the ball in the goal.
"We were a little worried after that first half," May said, "but we knew we could finish them off."