Westfield 2, Herndon 1
Westfield's 2-1 victory over Herndon last night in a Concorde District semifinal seemed uncharacteristic for this boys' soccer rivalry because the match did not go to overtime.
Before last night, three of the teams' previous five meetings extended beyond regulation, including last year's district semifinal, which Herndon won.
But in the first half of last night's game, the swift and sure feet of Westfield senior midfielder Brendan Reddy helped the Bulldogs (10-6) grab a lead that brawny 6-foot-2 senior defender Andrew Charron and the Westfield defense would not relinquish.
With the victory, Westfield's first over Herndon, the Bulldogs grabbed their first-ever Northern Region tournament berth. They will host the Concorde District final on Friday against the winner of last night's Jefferson-Chantilly match.
"There was no way we were going to let this game go another 20 minutes because we just didn't have the legs to go into overtime," Westfield Coach Ben Hubbard said. "We took the lead and we just concentrated on defense."
Westfield owed its exhaustion to a 2-1 penalty-kicks victory against Oakton on Monday.
Herndon senior midfielder Ken Huttman started the scoring in the 15th minute when he delivered a nicely placed corner kick that senior Jared Dillon punched in.
But Reddy began an impressive Bulldogs attack in the next 15 minutes with two shots on goal that narrowly missed.
The Bulldogs' leading scorer finally broke through in the 30th minute, picking up his ninth goal of the season with a penalty kick. A minute later, he notched his sixth assist of the season on a corner kick that Pat Barthold headed in for the go-ahead goal.
"I told my guys that for a short 10-minute span there we gave up the game," Herndon Coach John Pascarella said. "When you give up two goals against a team like Westfield in a high-pressure game like that it's really hard to get them back."
Charron, who had been playing mainly in a defensive role at midfield in the first half, moved back in the second half to sweeper to lead the defense.
Westfield also brought in junior defender Tory Grayson, who was given the responsibility of looking after the Concorde District player of the year, senior midfielder Ekom Etuk. Herndon had its best chance to tie the game in the final minute when Huttman struck a nicely placed assist that Etuk came inches away from heading in.
"We went from being the worst in our district to playing for first," said Charron, whose Bulldogs had defeated Oakton for their only district victory in the regular season. "I think this win proves that we've broken through."