When W.T. Woodson defender Scott Levine was asked how many times the Cavaliers worked on dead-ball situations in the practice before yesterday's Virginia AAA boys' soccer quarterfinal against top-ranked Osbourn Park, he jokingly replied "too many."
The Cavaliers' practice paid off, as Levine scored on a corner kick in the 51st minute to lift No. 2 W.T. Woodson to a 1-0 road victory. It was the Yellow Jackets' first loss.
"We've been running the same restarts since the beginning of the year," Levine said. "We finally got them down."
W.T. Woodson (16-4-1) advanced to the semifinal against Cox, the Eastern Region champion, Friday at 1 p.m. at Christopher Newport University in Newport News. Osbourn Park (20-1-1) completed its season.
Cavaliers midfielder Jeff Sapolsky lofted a corner from the right side several yards beyond the far post. Levine sprinted in, positioned himself perfectly and headed the ball over the Yellow Jackets' goalkeeper. It was his first goal of the season.
"We knew that their weakness, kind of, was a driven ball to the far post," Levine said. "We were expecting the ball coming to the far post, and when it came to me, I tried to take advantage of it."
The Yellow Jackets' defense had allowed only eight goals all season.
"Give credit to the kid that scored that goal," Osbourn Park All-Met defender Phil Purdy said. "He stuck it right up in the place he could only score it."
The Westfield boys' soccer team has accomplished so many improbable firsts this season, players said, that last night's landmark accomplishment felt almost routine.
After the Bulldogs beat visiting Gar-Field, 3-1, to advance to the Virginia AAA state semifinals for the first time in school history, Westfield players hardly reacted. They huddled quietly, sipped water and placidly shook their opponents' hands.
"You can't celebrate every time," said senior forward Nick Rhodes, who scored twice. "We don't really feel like we're underdogs anymore."
They don't play like one anymore, either. After a 1-4 start, Westfield (12-5-4) has lost once in its last 16 games. It won the Concorde District and the Northern Region titles for the first time in the school's five-year history. It will try to advance to its first state final when it plays Thomas Dale in Newport News on Friday.
Against Gar-Field (9-11), the Bulldogs continued their streak of dominance. Midfielder Pat Barthold scored on a rebound shot five minutes into the game; Rhodes doubled the lead with a 25-yard shot 20 minutes later. As if for emphasis, Barthold assisted Rhodes on Westfield's final goal in the second half, making it 3-0.
Gar-Field, meantime, attempted its first shot midway through the second half. Darien Ruggles scored the Indians' only goal with 14 minutes left.
"With our confidence, a lead like that is usually enough," Westfield Coach Tom Torres said. "We get going and we don't really stop.
Potomac Falls Wins
Sparked by an impressive first-half goal by sophomore Ben Biber, No. 4 Potomac Falls overcame an early deficit to defeat Courtland, 2-1, in a Virginia AA quarterfinal game in Sterling.
Biber was in a one-on-one situation with a defender on the far left side, about 35 yards from the goal, when he turned and fired a shot that slipped perfectly between the goalkeeper and the right post to tie the game. Later in the half, sophomore Matt Swaney headed in a long pass from senior Kevin Palensky to give the Panthers the winning margin.
"Ben's shot, I think that was the shot we had to get to get our confidence back in the game," Panthers Coach Dave Gryder said. "Even though it was 1-0, they were putting pressure on us. The opportunities we had were very few, so we had to make the most of them."
Potomac Falls (21-1-1), the Dulles District and Region II champ, will play the Magna Vista-Blacksburg winner on Friday at 6 p.m. at Radford University.
Courtland (15-4-2) got on the board early, scoring when senior Pat Baden got an open shot on a throw-in into the penalty area. Biber responded in the 24th minute with his shot, and 11 minutes later Swaney scored.
The Panthers had only four more shots on goal the rest of the game, but Courtland could not come through on its three shots in the final 15 minutes.
Special correspondent Sean P. Flynn contributed to this report