First-half goals by Julie Hellmuth and Kristyn Woodside enlivened the staid Fairfax Express offense on the team's first day of competition at the 16th annual Washington Area Girls Soccer (WAGS) Tournament. Fairfax went on to defeat the Lincroft (N.J.) Skeeters, 3-0, yesterday at Fort Belvoir.
Fairfax, the 1989 under-16 national champions now competing in the under-19 premier division, entered as the No. 1 seed among the 60 teams from 19 states. In the opener, however, a lack of offensive thrust stymied the Express, and they had to settle for a 0-0 tie against the TOSA (Wis.) Kicks.
Coach Dave Sweda was visibly distraught after that first game.
"We were shocked," he said. "We missed five open net shots and played too little pressure. They weren't a bad team and they were well-organized."
Fairfax goalkeeper Jennifer Brennan had little work to do, as the Kicks could not muster any shots on goal. Sweda added that the early morning sun (the game began at 8 a.m.) rising over the trees affected players who were forced to look into it for one half.
But in the second game of the round-robin tournament, the Fairfax attack awakened. With five shots on net in the first eight minutes, the Express kept the pressure on the Lincroft defense. Hellmuth scored on a goal, assisted by Kristen DiMillio about seven minutes into the game, on a perfect, dead-straight shot that skimmed over the goaltender's head from the left side.
"Our offense really played well," Sweda said. "I just couldn't believe the number of times they hacked us. It was violent at times."
Woodside scored the second Fairfax goal just before the end of the first half, firing a 20-foot kick from the right side past the sprawled Lincroft goalie. DiMillio then added the final goal on a short kick from the crease midway through the second half.
More than 300 teams competed in this year's tournament in nine age groups. Twenty-two college teams also participated in a special exhibition division. Several college coaches roamed the sidelines during the youth games, searching for future stars.
"The girls were worried after that first game," Sweda said. "They wanted to impress those coaches."
The Express left a lasting impression on the University of Virginia, managing a 1-1 tie against the now top-ranked team in the nation in an exhibition match this summer.
Among other local teams in the under-19 premier division, VISTA United of Fairfax defeated the Arizona Shamrocks, 2-0. Magic '73 (Tex.) bested the Prince William Star Raiders, 3-0, and the Columbia Crusaders tied the Fort Lowell (Ariz.) Sidewinders, 0-0.