Thomas Dale 1, W.T. Woodson 0
Three times in sudden-death overtime, the W.T. Woodson boys' soccer team came within inches of winning the Virginia AAA championship. But ultimately, the Cavaliers could not score against Thomas Dale's stout defense.
Thomas Dale survived a thrilling sequence of W.T. Woodson shots before Knights junior defender Roger Bothe scored seconds before the game was to go to penalty kicks, defeating the second-ranked Cavaliers, 1-0, in the state tournament final Saturday.
"It's probably the worst feeling in the world," Cavaliers senior forward Michael Lahoud said. "It was right there. I thought we had it."
Thomas Dale (24-0) set a Virginia High School League single-season record for wins and outscored its opponents 109-4 this season. After losing to Langley on penalty kicks in last year's state semifinals, the Richmond-area school denied W.T. Woodson its first state championship since 2000.
"It's a great feeling, the greatest feeling in the world," Bothe said.
With overtime about to expire, Knights senior defender Jeff Jaeckle sent a cross from the right wing in front of the Cavaliers' goal. W.T. Woodson midfielder Ryan Snyder attempted to clear the ball, but Bothe blocked it with his face. It settled at his feet, and the Central Region player of the year fired a low shot from eight yards into the goal.
"I got lucky, and it just bounced right in front of me," Bothe said. "It was about one of the [biggest] miracles I'd ever seen."
"I just went to clear it high and wide," Snyder said. "[Bothe] made sure he got over the ball. I didn't see him coming behind me and he just blocked it. I don't think our defense could react quick enough."
W.T. Woodson almost won the game nine minutes earlier, at the beginning of overtime. The sequence started when Cavaliers midfielder Ben Fuentes took a hard shot from 15 yards that Thomas Dale goalkeeper Matt White barely deflected over the crossbar.
On the ensuing corner kick, the Knights allowed the ball to come down in front of the goal. Snyder redirected it toward the net, but Jaeckle cleared it off the line.
"I was getting ready to celebrate," Snyder said. "It was right there."
Jaeckle's clearing attempt was stopped by W.T. Woodson defender Zack Bauer, who fired in a strong shot -- but White made another difficult save.
"I couldn't even have time to think," White said. "It was all reaction. If I would have sat and thought about it, one would have went in. I felt like all the pressure was down on me, and I had to come up big."
W.T. Woodson completed its season at 17-5-1. The Cavaliers won the Liberty District regular season championship but did not win a postseason tournament. They lost to Fairfax in the district tournament semifinals and Westfield in the Northern Region final.
"I'm happy with my team," said Lahoud, the All-Met Player of the Year. "I don't think anyone thought we could go this far. We believed in ourselves and showed what we are capable of. We gave it all we got. If that's not good enough, it's not good enough."