W.T. Woodson 2, Centreville 1
The W.T. Woodson girls' soccer team's season hasn't always looked perfect. But All-Met Ashley Banks made sure it ended that way.
The senior scored the game-winning goal in the 63rd minute of Saturday's Virginia AAA championship, slipping to the front of the net to knock in a loose ball. The goal helped her bookend her high school career with state titles, this year's coming with a 2-1 win over Centreville at Christopher Newport University.
After a season that included injuries, player suspensions and overtimes -- and penalty-kick shootouts in the regional and state semifinals -- the Cavaliers finished undefeated at 20-0-1.
"It's a dream right now," said Banks, who will play in the fall for West Virginia. "I can't believe we won. . . . It's kind of like, 'Did it just happen, we're not going into extra time?' I just kept saying to myself when I scored the goal, 'The game isn't over yet. We've gone into too many overtimes, we need to keep playing.' "
It was especially true against the fast-paced, aggressive style of Centreville, which had scored two or more goals 15 times this season.
It didn't take long for the Wildcats (17-4-1) to show how quickly they were capable of a rally. Emily Salinas had put W.T. Woodson ahead 1-0 in the ninth minute, but Centreville needed just 19 seconds to answer. Laura Rochford, who had a goal or assist in all but one regional and state tournament game for Centreville, found Patti Brenner alone for a shot that quickly found the back of the net.
After that, the Wildcats had trouble freeing up their forwards, including Emily Jukich, who had tortured Mills Godwin with her speed the day before.
"They worked out of the midfield and they got us wide," Centreville Coach Warren Williams said. "We were trying to pack it in, especially in the midfield, because we were short some players and that's [what we thought was] the best chance to win. In the second half, I think we didn't get the ball as much to Emily as we wanted to."
The concern for W.T. Woodson was finishing the chances when they presented themselves, something the Cavaliers struggled to do in Friday's semifinal against North Stafford.
Salinas made the first one count when Crystal Thune sent a ball toward the back post. Salinas buried it in the net to settle down the Cavaliers.
"We were kind of jittery, but we relaxed and once Crystal crossed that to me, I was just there and everyone went crazy," Salinas said. "I was just like 'Get it in,' because before people were right in front of the goal and kicked it over. I had to get it in."
Saturday's win capped a hectic 24 hours for some of the Cavaliers, who had raced back home after the shootout win to attend the prom and then hustled back for Saturday's final.
"It felt like I was 10 years old when I would go back and forth to basketball, soccer and all these sports," Thune said. "It was just rush, rush, rush, rush, rush. We got it done. It's just a great feeling when you win your game in [penalty kicks], go home for prom and you win a state championship. We got all three things."