An exhausted W.T. Woodson boys' soccer team trudged off the field at the end of regulation in its Virginia AAA semifinal Friday against Cox. With both teams battling the afternoon heat and humidity as much as each other, Cavaliers Coach Richard Broad issued a challenge before overtime to All-Met Player of the Year Michael Lahoud.
"I asked Mike to take over the game," Broad said, "and he responded."
Lahoud scored his second goal of the game one minute into overtime and assisted on an insurance goal nine minutes later, as the Cavaliers defeated Cox of Virginia Beach, 3-1, at Christopher Newport University.
W.T. Woodson (17-4-1) will play for its first state title since 2000 at 1 p.m. Saturday against undefeated Thomas Dale, which defeated Westfield, 2-1, in overtime.
Lahoud broke a scoreless tie in the 42nd minute with a goal on a hard, low shot from 15 yards. In overtime, he dribbled from the left wing to the top of the penalty area and tucked a low shot inside the left post for the game-winner.
"It was just a relief to finally show some character and come out on top," Lahoud said.
"We had a great scouting report on [Lahoud], but that didn't mean that we could stop him," Cox Coach Jim Snodgrass said. "He obviously was the player that killed us. Our marking back has shut down every player he's faced. That guy [Lahoud] was smarter off the ball and he was better with the ball."
Opposite Lahoud was another one of the state's premier scorers -- Cox forward Jeremy Harris, the Eastern Region player of the year. Harris scored the Falcons' only goal, a flicked header from 15 yards in the 46th minute.
"We kept him to one goal," Cavaliers defender Sean McCarthy said. "That was enough."
Cox (16-4-3) used 11 reserves while the Cavaliers used only four. W.T. Woodson, however, did not succumb to the heat.
"I left everything out there on the field," McCarthy said. "We have one more left."
Westfield's impressive late-season run ended after Thomas Dale forward Eric Clarke scored his second goal of the game in the 84th minute. Clarke's goals in the 13th minute and overtime both came after crosses from the left wing.
"We knew they were going to run down the left side," Bulldogs Coach Tom Torres said. "We knew that that was their heavy artillery, and we just didn't do a good enough job of stopping it."
Bulldogs forward Pat Barthold tied the game in the 55th minute. It was only the fourth goal that Thomas Dale (23-0) had allowed this season.
Westfield, the Northern Region champion, completed its season at 12-6-4.
"From where we started -- and I'm not talking wins and losses -- but where we started in general," Torres said, making the state semifinals "is just phenomenal."