W.T. Woodson All-Met forward Ashley Banks had seen her team end up on the wrong side of a shootout too often to even think about starting a celebration.
For the third straight season the Cavaliers found themselves in penalty kicks in the Virginia AAA Northern Region semifinals, but unlike the previous two Banks and the Cavaliers won this one, 6-5, after playing Lake Braddock to a 1-1 draw in regulation last night at Westfield.
The Cavaliers (16-0-1) will face Centreville (15-2-1) in Friday's Northern Region final. The Wildcats advanced to their first state tournament with a 3-1 win over West Springfield (13-5-1).
Banks scored what proved to be the clincher on a shot that slowly rolled across the line after catching a piece of the Bruins' keeper. She then saw the same fortune carry over when the final Lake Braddock shooter shot wide -- sending the Cavaliers to the state tournament and touching off what looked like a celebration on tape-delay.
"We wanted to make sure it was wide," Banks said about the seconds of silence that followed the final Lake Braddock miss. "We didn't want to celebrate too early."
Woodson junior All-Met Claire Zimmeck certainly gave the Cavaliers a cause for that early celebration by scoring in the first minute of the game.
But defending state champion Lake Braddock (11-2-3) started to play like the team that had bounced the Cavaliers out of the playoffs last season in a shootout. The Bruins pressured Woodson's gimpy backline early in the second half, finally tying the score on a goal by Mary Jacocks in the 49th minute.
"We fought, we worked hard, we got into [penalty kicks] and, you know, we sent them home once -- they're sending us home. That's the way it goes," Lake Braddock Coach Liz Pike said. "It was a great game, so no complaints."
Centreville was certainly in no position to complain either, especially after second-half goals from Laura Rochford and Patti Brenner broke open a game that had been tied at 1 at halftime.
Rochford put the Wildcats ahead for good when she shot a cross from Cate Tisinger into the left side of the net in the 57th minute and Patti Brenner added an insurance goal from 35 yard in the 72nd minute.
"We've worked so hard all season. This is the first time we are going to states, so we're all really excited," Rochford said. "Our whole team just really played their hearts out tonight."