W.T. Woodson Coach Andy Muir has been waiting for defender Lizl Gericke to consistently score goals on penalty corners.
The wait appears to be over for Muir, as the junior rocketed in two goals to lift the sixth-ranked Cavaliers to a 2-1 win over No. 3 Oakton last night in a AAA Northern Region quarterfinal at Oakton.
The Cavaliers (17-3-1) are one victory away from reaching the state tournament for the third straight season. They are scheduled to meet Annandale today in a rematch of last year's regional final; the Atoms (10-4) advanced with a 2-1 win over Fairfax.
"Finally she's starting to make contact," Muir said of Gericke. "She's scored a few goals in the last couple of games. That's nice to see that's she's making good contact and putting it where it should be going."
No. 7 Jefferson (17-2) will play Chantilly in today's other semifinal. The Colonials beat No. 5 Madison, 3-2, and the Chargers (9-9) advanced past Langley, 2-0 in penalty strokes, after playing to a scoreless tie in regulation. Both semifinals are scheduled for 7 p.m. at Oakton.
W.T. Woodson applied enough pressure to score once in each half, but perhaps just as important was how the Cavaliers reacted to holding a lead. They led 2-0 and 3-2 in the AAA Liberty District final against Madison (16-4-1), only to lose, 4-3, in overtime.
"It gives you a little cushion to fall back on," Gericke said. "We knew we had to play our best game and we did."
The host Cougars (15-3) tried to rally but missed a penalty stroke with just more than nine minutes to play. They finally scored in the closing seconds of regulation.
Jefferson was able to come up with plenty of offense. Senior forward Kendall Stone scored twice in the first half, and Juliana Litts broke a 2-2 tie with a backhanded score with 19 minutes 28 seconds to play in regulation.
"I didn't think there would be that many goals," said Litts, who helped move the Colonials within a win of their first state tournament appearance since 1997. "It's good that there were, it made the game exciting."
The evening's excitement, however, belonged to Chantilly and Langley. The two teams battled late into the night, and neither scored for 90 minutes. The Chargers, down a player for the majority of overtime, were able to send the game into penalty strokes and turn the game over to standout goalie Lauren Douthat.
With the help of the left post in the first round of strokes, the senior stopped all four shots she faced to help the Chargers avenge a 3-0 regular season loss.
"They keep coming at us and we just kept stopping them," said Douthat, who thought the game was over in the second overtime after Chantilly scored, only to see the potential game-winner called back. "I didn't know how long we had to go for."