The secret to the region’s most prolific attack may be an inseparable friendship. Last year, toward the beginning of their freshmen year at Stone Bridge, Ashley Herndon and Murielle Tiernan met as prospective high school soccer teammates.

They knew of each other, having faced each other in club soccer games before, but the moment their connection took off. Now the sophomores spend plenty of time off together, catching soccer games or just hanging out. Their tight-knit relationship is reaping dividends for the second-ranked Bulldogs (10-1-1).

In Thursday’s 3-0 win over No. 4 Robinson, Herndon found a streaking Tiernan for the first goal of the game in the opening half. And late in the second half, Tiernan drew a foul and a penalty kick, which Herndon, of course, took for another score.

“My freshman and sophomore years we never really had that forward that could put it in whenever they wanted to,” senior defender Emily Fredrikson said. “And these two they work so amazing together … They’re inseparable. They’re best friends and are always together.”

As a nearly unstoppable offensive force last season, Herndon and Tiernan combined for 42 of Stone Bridge’s 78 goal en route to an undefeated season and Virginia AAA state title. This season, little has changed. Stone Bridge defenders feed the ball to Tiernan (10 goals and eight assists), who in turn sets up Herndon (19 goals and six assists).

Both have combined for 29 of the team’s 38 goals this season despite being marked much of the season. “It’s kind of annoying,” said Herndon of the constant defensive attention.

Against Robinson, Herndon and Tiernan were each trailed by a Ram defender all game. But the duo’s speed and skill were too much. Tiernan took a pass from Herndon and drilled a low shot into the goal in the 22nd minute for a 1-0 lead in a rematch of last year’s AAA Northern Region championship.

The Rams (6-2-2), who at times played stellar defense against the Stone Bridge duo, had plenty of chances of their own, including a few close-range shots, but all went wide or were cleared by the Stone Bridge defense.

In the 69th minute, Tiernan fell awkwardly on her right shoulder after drawing a foul in the penalty box. Herndon knocked in a low penalty shot for a 2-0 lead.

Six minutes later, Fredrikson, a deft defender with a lively leg, added the Bulldogs’ final goal on a curling 30-yard free kick.

“I thought we played we played well,” said Herndon, whose team recorded its 10th shutout of the season. “We came in here thinking it was going to be a good match and it turned out to be and we’re happy about it.”

After the victory, Tiernan acknowledged that it’s strange how quickly she and Herndon become close.

“She’s my best friend,” Tiernan said.