West Springfield senior goalkeeper Gretchen Lear has not needed to make many game-saving stops this season. But last night she made an incredible one.
Lear made a sprawling save on Woodbridge midfielder Kelly Melton's attempt with 5 minutes 26 seconds remaining to preserve a 2-1 victory over previously unbeaten, and second-ranked Woodbridge in a Virginia AAA state quarterfinal in Woodbridge.
No. 1 West Springfield (18-1-0) will play Princess Anne, a 2-0 winner over Midlothian last night, in the state semifinals Friday afternoon at Old Dominion in Norfolk.
Woodbridge, the Cardinal District and AAA Northwest Region champion the past three seasons, finished 18-1-2. West Springfield has 16 shutouts this season but Lear has been overlooked because of the defense in front of her, including two-time All-Met sweeper Emily McArthur and two-time second-team All-Met stopper Collen McIlwrath.
Lear, though, rose to the challenge late in the contest with her team clinging to a 2-1 margin. Freshman forward Liana Wooten drove the ball down the right side of the field, crossing a nifty pass to Melton on the far post. Melton one-timed the pass into the apparent wide-open left side of the net but Lear came from nowhere to smother the shot.
"I thought [the ball] was in the net, I thought everyone did," Woodbridge Coach Mike Yeatts said.
Lear said the shot was less than six inches away from crossing the goal line. "[Melton] one-touched it and I was lucky enough to react it," she said. "I don't face a lot of shots but the farther we go into the tournament the teams get harder and more is expected of me," said Lear, who signed with N.C. State.
The Spartans got on the board first with 12:13 left in the first half on junior forward Lauren Vanni's 13th goal. Vanni chipped a left-footed shot over the head of goalkeeper Stefanie Barnes for the early 1-0 lead.
West Springfield (18-1-0) 1 1 2
Woodbridge (18-1-2) 0 1 1
GOALS -- WS: Vanni, 28th; Blume, 57th; WB: Wooten, 48th.
ASSISTS -- WS: Blume, McClure; WB: Weaver.
SHOTS -- WS: 7; WB: 5.
SAVES -- WS: Lear, 3, team, 1; WB: Barnes 0, Dittamo, 2.