After allowing the final goal of her decorated high school career on Sunday, Battlefield All-Met goalkeeper Taylor Kerxton remained face down on the turf for a few extra seconds, leaving a defender to fish the soccer ball out of the net.
Kerxton’s heroics fueled Battlefield’s bid for its first state title with two penalty shootout victories to begin the state tournament, and the Virginia AAA state final against Deep Run appeared headed for more extra time thanks to another strong effort from the Wake Forest-bound goalkeeper.
Instead Deep Run junior Elizabeth Ball scored the go-ahead goal on a nifty shot with the outside of her right foot in the 72nd minute, and the Wildcats held on for a 2-1 victory, closing an unbeaten season with their first state crown at Westfield.
“We weren’t really playing the way we should’ve been,” said Kerxton, who allowed just 16 goals in 24 games this season. “Soccer’s that kind of game. You don’t always get the outcome that you want.”
In its third straight state tournament appearance, Battlefield (21-2-1) had its chances for a history-making win on Sunday.
The Bobcats tied the game on junior Sydney Sisk’s second goal of the year in the final seconds of the opening half and kept the pressure on Deep Run (22-0-1) after halftime. The Haymarket school averaged more than three goals per game for the year, but Sisk’s header off a corner kick from sophomore Becca Callison ended up as its only tally of the game.
With overtime looming, Ball came through with her second goal of the game with an individual effort that proved the difference. The Penn State recruit chased down a long pass on the left side and angled toward the net with a defender in tow.
Kerxton (four saves) came out anticipating a loose ball, but Ball maintained possession and flicked a shot around the goalie’s lunge. The slow-rolling shot hit the net just ahead of the chasing defender.
“When [Ball] gets the ball at her foot, she can do anything with it.” Kerxton said. “I just wanted that ball to go out and prevent her from scoring, but it didn’t happen.”
“I knew I couldn’t get it over her, so I took a chance,” Ball said.
Battlefield won Cedar Run District and Northwest Region titles and tied the school record for wins in a season, equaling the 2008 squad that also fell in the state final.
Three of those wins came via penalty kicks, including Saturday’s semifinal win over Cox on junior Lexi Moylan’s game-winner in the eighth round.
The Bobcats scrambled to extend the game late on Sunday, but goalie Kelsey Kilgore, also headed to Penn State, snared senior Bri Toelle’s shot for her fourth save in the final minute to preserve the win.
“I told them we can keep our heads held high,” said Battlefield Coach Kevin Hilton. “Too many memories were created during the season to let a bad result . . . damper what was a great season.”