For the past two years, Becca Callison has tried just about everything. She’s kicked it straight on, she’s thrown all of her power behind the ball and more recently, she’s employed the help of teammate Colleen Gawkins, who tees up the Battlefield junior with a gentle pass off the opening kickoff.
It wasn’t until Thursday, with the Virginia 6A North region girls’ soccer title on the line, that Callison’s 50-yard shot attempt off a designed play roused an optimistic feeling as it zoomed toward the goal.
Though the ball ultimately slammed just off the post, it jump-started an effort in which the Bobcats were both aggressive and opportune in their play against an underdog Centreville team riding a strong wave of momentum. Behind Callison’s goal and assist later in the first half, the Bobcats notched a 2-0 victory at Patriot High in Nokesville to capture their fourth straight region trophy.
“I haven’t come that close to making it ever,” Callison said of her opening kick. “This game and all season, our goal is to come out with intensity and set the tone early. Making that shot would have gone a long way in doing that but we still kept going strong afterward.”
The strategy was especially critical Thursday, with Gawkins, Battlefield’s top player, battling a high fever. The area’s leading goal scorer still managed to use her speed in constantly keeping the Centreville defense on its heels behind 12 Battlefield shots.
Callison broke through for the Bobcats in the game’s seventh minute, scoring off a free kick to put her team up 1-0.
About 22 minutes later, Callison used her sharp-footed accuracy to loft a corner kick into the middle of the box and set up Karina Lacey, who headed in the second and final goal of the contest.
From there, the Bobcats (19-0) turned up their defensive intensity with their back line as the anchor.
“The talk at pregame was about starving the opposition of opportunities and making it tough for them to work in the midfield, which is where their main strength is,” Gawkins said. “I think we did a good job of that, especially because we know they’ve been able to come back on teams in the past.”
The Wildcats (8-9) mustered a few opportunities in their bid for a second-half rally, including a leading pass upfield to forward Jenna Green. But despite a solid shot attempt by the Centreville senior, Bobcats goalie Halle Lahammer snagged the ball out of the air for one of her seven saves on the night.
“I think our defenders across the back did a nice job of pushing their forwards and midfielders away from the goal to where they were forced to take a lot of shots from 30 to 35 yards out,” Battlefield Coach Kevin Hilton said. “To win four region championships in a row is special, especially for the senior class.”
Both teams advance to next week’s 6A state semifinals at Robinson, with Battlefield playing the loser of Friday’s 6A South region final between Cox and Cosby and Centreville meeting the winner.