Magic '73 had been riding an improbable wave of upsets, the latest a semifinal victory over the top-seeded Fairfax Express, to reach the under-19 premier flight final at the Washington Area Girls Soccer (WAGS) Tournament. The Dallas-based team finally ran out of tricks yesterday, but only after one more remarkable effort.
Magic '73 held VISTA United to a scoreless tie through two overtimes, before VISTA prevailed in a shootout at Fort Belvoir to claim its second consecutive tournament title.
Anna Yates, Sonja Platzer and Robyn Smith scored in the shootout for VISTA and goalkeeper Cheryl Carr stood tall in the nets, allowing two goals but deflecting away three shots.
"We played better than I thought we would after six games," VISTA Coach Bob Childs said. "We spend a lot of time practicing for shootouts. The girls are used to pressure -- they played three college teams this year and all ended in shootouts."
VISTA, based in Fairfax, had defeated Magic, 4-0, in the tournament's first round, a game it had to win to advance. Then it edged the Michigan Hawks, 2-1, to advance to the championship.
Last year VISTA United won the 1973 (the year the players were born) A flight title and its sister squad, the Phoenix, captured the under-19 premier division.
As in the first-round victory over Magic, VISTA was frustrated in the first half. Its passing was crisp, the offensive pressure pronounced, but the Magic defense managed to keep the game scoreless through 35 minutes.
Julie Seamon, who scored three goals against Magic Sunday, narrowly missed a chance to repeat her heroics, when her 10-yard shot from in front of the net was deflected by Magic goalkeeper Shelley Finger. Sherry Worsham (three assists Sunday) had her opportunities, but two first-half shots were caught before they reached the net.
Inability to capitalize on its chances also hurt the VISTA offense through much of the second half, during which it maintained possession in the Magic end. Smith had the best chance of the day, a clear shot to the left of the Magic net. But her weak attempt never got airborne and was deflected easily by Finger.
Finger, the goalie on the under-19 national team, had not allowed a goal in the tournament. She had a spectacular day, making several diving saves and even scoring a goal during the shootout.
VISTA's defense rose to the occasion again and again during the second half. During one exchange that resembled a rugby scrum, Platzer managed to tip a Magic shot away after it had traveled behind Carr and rolled toward the net. Magic got off several shots, but Carr held her own and saved each one, exciting the partisan crowd.
"I told the girls during the overtime not to make any mistakes," Childs said. "I said, 'Don't lose the game on your own.' "