Stone Bridge 3, Courtland 0

-- When the Stone Bridge girls' soccer team started the season, few believed the Bulldogs when they said they could win a state title. But as the season wore on and the wins started to pile up, those non-believers began taking notice. In Saturday's Virginia AA final, any remaining doubt about what this team could accomplish was erased.

The No. 9 Bulldogs got a pair of goals from junior forward Mary Jo Loos in the game's first 10 minutes and freshman forward Melony Davis added a third strike early in the second half to lead Stone Bridge to its first state title, 3-0 over Courtland.

"The headlines early on this season said that Broad Run and Potomac Falls were looking for competition," Loos said. "Look what we did. We played our best game of the season and proved [we could win a state title] to everyone."

From the opening whistle, Stone Bridge (16-4-4) exerted its will on the Cougars (17-6-2), pushing the ball down the field on the opening possession. With little more than a minute elapsed, senior midfielder Morgan Vernon's throw-in was touched on by forward Katie Ansell to a waiting Loos, who had only to poke the ball past Courtland goalie Kathleen Underwood for a 1-0 advantage.

In the eighth minute, Loos struck again. With her back to the net, she volleyed midfielder Sarah Cabrisses's cross over her head and past Underwood for a 2-0 lead.

From there, the Bulldogs relied on their possession game and their defense to hold off the Cougars. Midfielder Lindsey Moore led the defensive effort, shadowing Courtland standout and Region I player of the year Lauren McCoy and holding her without a shot.

"Those two early goals set the stage and we knew we had to possess the ball and we did," Bulldogs Coach Jim Felix said. "They believed it from Day One and I'm so proud of them. It's phenomenal."

Stone Bridge played the game without injured midfielder and team captain Megan Malacarne, who hurt her knee in the team's semifinal win over Cave Spring on Friday. But as they have done all season, the Bulldogs were able to adjust, moving Loos between forward and midfield positions and getting strong performances from Davis and Ansell.

"We knew Megan wanted to be there, so we had to do it for her," Loos said about Malacarne, who tested her knee before the game but was unable to play. "She was there for us on the bench and gave us all her support."

After surviving two penalty-kick shootouts to advance to its first title game, Courtland did not have any answers for Stone Bridge. With the Bulldogs holding the ball for extended periods of time, the Cougars had a difficult time generating an attack and were forced to play long balls in the hopes of getting McCoy behind the defense. But those attempts proved futile.

"They may have been tentative about playing us to start with," Felix said, referring to Courtland. "We put two in early and I think they really started questioning themselves."

With the win, Stone Bridge became the first team in the school's five-year history to capture a state title and is the fourth Dulles District team to win the championship in seven years of AA competition.

Stone Bridge rallies around its trophy. "We played our best game of the season," forward Mary Jo Loos said.