Madison sophomore Kierra Sweeney turned 16 on Tuesday but chose to celebrate the occasion Monday night so she could devote her full attention to the Warhawks’ Virginia state semifinal game against Osbourn Park.
Even though the Madison midfielder had already unwrapped her presents by Tuesday’s opening draw, the Warhawks’ 26-10 victory proved to perfect cap to her special day.
“I’m very excited about this present,” Sweeney said of Madison’s win over the AAA Northwest Section runner-up. “I’ve been looking forward to this and thinking about this every time something gets hard in practice or something is slightly challenging, this goal is in my mind.”
“Depending on how the next game turns out, it might be the best birthday ever.”
That next game will come in Saturday’s state final, when the Warhawks (20-1) go for their second state title in three years against Liberty District foe Langley. For the red-hot Madison offense, the timing couldn’t be better. Sweeney scored a season-high seven goals in the win, tying her for the team lead with junior Katie Kerrigan, who also had her best offensive game of the season against the Yellow Jackets (16-4).
Dynamic Osbourn Park midfielder Corinne Wessels still managed to put together an impressive offensive line despite the lopsided score. The Northwestern recruit scored seven of the Yellow Jackets’ goals and assisted on the other three.
Despite playing without third-leading scorerMelissa Kellan, the Warhawks piled up a season-high in goals, marking the fourth time in the last six games that Madison has cracked the 20-goal mark.
“Each game is preparing us for the next, and at this point it’s really hard to tell the girls to stop shooting when that’s how, ultimately, you win a game,” Madison Coach Amanda Counts said. “When push comes to shove, we can’t have that be our habit, that we relent at all.”
●LANGLEY ROLLS INTO FINAL: It took the Saxons roughly 10 minutes of their state semifinal game against the Vikings to settle in and find their rhythm. Once they found their groove, the Saxons were off to the races en route to a 12-4 win.
After Loudoun Valley tied the game at two with just over 15 minutes to play in the first half, Langley (15-5) went on a tear, finishing the half with a 7-1 run that put the game out of reach.
The Saxons were more methodical offensively in the second half but equally stingy on the defensive end, eating clock with long possessions while allowing Loudoun Valley (17-5) to score just once after halftime.
Freshman attackman Halle Dunkel was the top scorer for Langley with three goals, while senior goalie Erin Long, the Northern Section defensive player of the year, finished with seven saves.
Almost as soon as buzzer, the Saxons turned their attention to the familiar foe they will face in Saturday’s state championship game. Langley has dropped all three meetings with Madison this season, including a nine-goal loss in the Northern Section title game and a seven-goal defeat in the Liberty District championship.
“Since we’re the underdogs, that gives us even a better advantage,” said Hayley Soutter, who dished out a team-best three assists in the Saxons’ semifinal win. “They’re going to come in overconfident for sure, and so that gives us an advantage that if we come out and play our game, we can definitely beat them.”