Westfield 2, W.T. Woodson 1
Westfield backup goalkeeper Rafael Chagolla was part of only one play in yesterday's Virginia AAA Northern Region boys' soccer tournament final, yet he earned a seat atop his teammates' shoulders following the fifth-ranked Bulldogs' thrilling 2-1 victory over No. 2 W.T. Woodson.
With the score tied at 1 in the 76th minute, the sophomore came off the bench and saved a penalty kick. Three minutes later, in the waning moments of regulation, Westfield defender Tory Grayson scored on a header to lift the Bulldogs to the title at Fairfax High.
The region title is the five-year-old school's first in boys' soccer and comes after a 1-4 start that included a 6-0 loss to W.T. Woodson.
"This was one of our goals, but we weren't really expecting this too much," senior Nick Rhodes said. "I can't even explain this feeling right now."
Both teams had qualified for next week's state tournament. In quarterfinal matches Tuesday, Westfield (11-5-4) will host Northwestern Region runner-up Gar-Field, and W.T. Woodson (15-4-1) will travel to Northwestern Region champion Osbourn Park.
The game's decisive sequence began when Cavaliers midfielder Ryan Snyder collided head-on with Westfield goalkeeper Chris Smith inside the top of penalty area as the two chased a loose ball. While Snyder and Smith were shaken up, the ball rolled right to W.T. Woodson forward Joe Barnd, who took two touches and scored.
The referee, however, whistled a foul on Smith before the goal. He gave Smith a yellow card and awarded W.T. Woodson a penalty kick. Smith had to leave the game because of the card, so Chagolla -- without warming up -- came in to face Barnd's penalty kick.
Barnd fired the penalty kick toward the lower right corner, but Chagolla was able to reach it and parry it out of bounds.
"I wasn't surprised that he made the save," Westfield Coach Tom Torres said, "but certainly I wasn't expecting it."
The save sparked the Bulldogs, who went on the attack immediately afterward.
"That just hyped the whole team up," Rhodes said. "It kept hope in us."
In the 80th minute, Grayson became the Bulldogs' second unlikely hero when Westfield forward A.J. Sheta sent a low corner kick in front of the goal. Grayson headed it in for his first goal of the season.