Liberty junior Maggie Wintersteen may score many more goals in her varsity field hockey career. But none likely will be as big as her first goal, the game-winner less than two minutes into overtime that gave the Eagles a 1-0 victory over rival Fauquier on Thursday afternoon in Warrenton.
Liberty (3-3) beat county rival Fauquier (0-4-1) for the first time since opening in 1994. "It's overwhelming," Wintersteen said. "We've been close in the past, but we really wanted it this year."
Wintersteen, who had scored the apparent go-ahead goal in the second half before it was nullified, maneuvered her way past the Fauquier defense on a fast break and scored 1 minute 23 seconds into overtime to pull off the win.
Liberty had lost 24 straight games to Fauquier, including several tight matches in recent years. The celebration that followed represented the release of a decade of frustration.
"I don't think I've ever screamed that loud," said Liberty forward Amanda Nick. "We were so excited."
Nick, as well as fellow offensive players Wintersteen, Lilly Gall and Jessica Shaw, seemed to have the upper hand throughout most of the game, played on a bright, cloudless day at Fauquier High.
The Eagles had several good scoring opportunities, including one that appeared destined for the cage before junior goalkeeper Rachel Letteri kicked it away at the final moment. With 17 minutes left in the game, Wintersteen scored what looked to be the go-ahead goal, but the official ruled the shot was too high.
"I guess that call was reasonable, so it wasn't very frustrating," Wintersteen said. "I didn't let it bother me."
The Eagles had three more shots that trickled around and in front of the Fauquier cage but never made it into the net. But they kept attacking through the end of regulation into overtime.
"I think they just found that place in their hearts where they said, 'We've got to get this done,' " Liberty Coach Mary Beth Colvin said. "We told them we can only give them so much advice; they really have to go out there and make it happen."
The Falcons have been one of Virginia's top Group AA/A teams for the last five seasons, but they struggled to get going against Liberty. The Eagles regularly won the battle for the ball at midfield and stayed on offense for most of the second half.
Only a few big saves by Letteri kept the game scoreless heading into overtime. Meantime, Fauquier had six penalty corners, none of which resulted in a shot.
Fauquier had a season-opening tie against Osbourn Park and lost to Chancellor, Western Albemarle and Orange. A year ago, the Falcons advanced to the state AA/A tournament for the third consecutive year.
"Fauquier is always a tough team, and we've had some tough games against them before, but Fauquier's just come out on top," Colvin said. "Today the girls just really wanted it."