Gar-Field 1, North Stafford 0
Gar-Field sophomore Marcia Biddle is a natural fit at goalkeeper for many reasons -- her size (she's 5 feet 9), her superb athletic ability and her exceeding self-confidence. Perhaps her only deficiency is a lack of experience.
North Stafford provided plenty of experience last night, firing 12 shots at Biddle in the Virginia AAA Northwestern Region girls' soccer championship game in Garrisonville. None got by Biddle, however, as she made nine saves, leading the Indians to a 1-0 victory and the first shutout of the Wolverines this season.
North Stafford "had a lot of [offensive] threats, they had a lot of chances to score," said Biddle, who started playing goalkeeper last year as a freshman. "I was really nervous there, but you have to act confident."
Both teams had clinched spots in Tuesday's state quarterfinals; Gar-Field (12-5-2) will host Central Region runner-up Mills Godwin while North Stafford (19-2) will travel to Central Region champion Midlothian.
In last night's game, Biddle benefited from the heady play of the Indians' defenders, led by Kentucky-bound senior defender Nathalie Bolder. But the Indians still had difficulty in stemming a Wolverines attack composed of speedy juniors forward Brittany Croce, midfielder Marissa Mohammed and sophomore forward and leading scorer Monica Szymanski (16 goals).
In the 19th minute, Mohammed had the first of several extremely close Wolverines shots when she blasted a free kick from nearly 30 yards that skimmed off Biddle's outstretched hand and rang off the crossbar.
Almost 10 minutes later, the Indians struck on their best opportunity to score, when junior forward Shawn Wickham fed leading scorer and sophomore forward Theresa Delucca with a beautiful back-heel pass. The pass sprung Delucca down the left side of the field; she took the ball toward goal and scored on a 20-yard shot that floated over the keeper.
"I wish we were playing horseshoes," North Stafford Coach Joann Szymanski said. "I thought we dominated the game. We had plenty of close chances but we couldn't convert, and after we went down it seemed like we just couldn't score."
In the second half, Gar-Field's offense improved, but North Stafford still outshot the Indians 6-2. North Stafford's best opportunity in the half came when Szymanski collected a rebound off Biddle's diving save about 15 yards from goal. She took a shot but was called offside, negating the chance. Biddle -- prone on her stomach -- reached up with her right hand and saved it anyway.
"Oh my gosh, Marcia had an incredible game," Bolder said. "She just kept us in it the whole game long."