Twice Battlefield was pushed to the brink of elimination in the Virginia AAA girls’ soccer state tournament, one penalty kick separating the Bobcats from a joyous triumph and a cruel end to one of their best seasons.
Though the loss brought tears and long faces, it won’t wipe away a campaign that saw the Bobcats tie a school record in wins, reach their second state final and finish as the area’s top girls’ soccer team for the spring season.
“The competitive spirit and desire to win was almost unmatched from this team,” Bobcats Coach Kevin Hilton said. “In the [six] overtime games and three shootout victories, we always seemed to have an answer if we got down throughout the year, but unfortunately in that last game, we ran out of time.”
With the majority of last year’s state quarterfinalist squad returning, the Bobcats entered this season with lofty expectations and on a mission to win the school’s first championship, Hilton said. En route to the final, the Bobcats went 21-2-1, winning their third straight Northwest Region crown and earning its fourth state tournament bid in the last six seasons.
Leading the way were Kerxton, an All-Met Wake Forest recruit who posted 11 shutouts, and All-Met junior forward Colleen Gawkins, who netted 28 goals to pace the Bobcats. Bri Toelle scored 17 times for a high-powered offensive attack that averaged more than three goals a game.
On defense, Alexa Wagoner paced a unit that featured one new starter in Bayleigh Young and another, Taylor Brackin, who stepped in when Lauren Ciccone went down early with a season-ending knee injury. Together, they helped hold opponents to just one goal during a critical seven-game stretch in May entering the playoffs.
“You have to have a lot of talent, which we had, and things have to really go your way to win a championship, and we came up just short,” Hilton said. “But we accomplished a lot and to be recognized as the top team in an area where soccer is second to none is special.”
Woodgrove elevated its play in the postseason to win its second straight Virginia AA title, beating Briar Woods, 2-0, in their fourth meeting of the year. . . . Chantilly captured the school’s second Northern Region title by beating Yorktown. . . . The Patriots outscored opponents by nearly 90 goals and handed Stone Bridge its lone loss of the season. . . . By hoisting this year’s A state title, No. 10 George Mason became the only soccer team in either gender to win six straight championships.
1. Battlefield (21-2-1) LW: 3
2. Woodgrove (20-5-1) LW: NR
3. Chantilly (14-3-3) LW: 4
4. Yorktown (19-3) LW: 5
5. Stone Bridge (17-1-2) LW: 1
6. Briar Woods (19-5-1) LW: 7
7. Westfield (14-2-1) LW: 2
8. Forest Park (16-4-1) LW: 6
9. W.T. Woodson (12-6-1) LW: NR
10. George Mason (22-4) LW: NR
On the bubble: Woodbridge (16-5-1), Tuscarora (14-2-5), Patriot (13-3-3)