Like a golfer stroking an important putt, Jackie Kotoriy keeps her head down after she hits penalty corners. The Langley senior didn’t need to look up after she dished a pinpoint insert to fellow captain Sara Scherping midway through the second half of Tuesday night’s Virginia 6A North region semifinal. The earsplitting crack that ensued told her everything she needed to know.
“I didn’t even go near the post because I was like, ‘I’m either going to get hit in the face or we’re going to score,’ ” Kotoriy said.
Scherping froze after she rocketed the 15-yard blast on Madison’s goal. It wasn’t until her teammates mobbed her that she seemed to realize her shot had unlocked a scoreless deadlock.
Scherping’s strike proved the difference in a 1-0 win over visiting Madison, propelling Langley to Thursday’s 6A North region final against top-seeded Fairfax.
Tuesday’s result vaulted the Saxons into uncharted territory. Langley Coach Jennifer Robb had guided three other teams to region semifinals in her 16 years at the helm, but none of them made it past that stage. No matter the outcome of Thursday’s final, the Saxons (16-6) are guaranteed a spot in next week’s 6A state semifinals.
Langley dictated the pace for much of Tuesday’s game, but longtime conference rival Madison (14-7) mounted a desperate push that produced five corners in the final 10 minutes. Senior defender Aya White cleared a close-range shot off the goal line with just under nine minutes to go.
The victory marked Langley’s ninth win by a one-goal margin this season. Every Langley player is required to complete a timed two-mile run during the season, a bonding experience the girls summon to dig deep during the grueling stages of big games.
Still, Robb, due to give birth to a baby boy sometime in the next two weeks, wouldn’t mind a multi-goal cushion every once in awhile.
“They’re about to have me go into labor with all these 1-0 games,” said Robb, in her final season as Langley coach.
Robb might need to brace herself for yet another gut-twisting matchup against a Conference 6 rival. Langley fell to Fairfax, 2-1, in a September overtime game, then lost by the same margin when the Rebels scored with 17 seconds left in last month’s conference championship.
Sophomore midfielder Alex Brzezynski scored with eight minutes left in overtime to lift Fairfax to a gritty 1-0 win over Robinson in Tuesday’s other 6A North semifinal. The victory moved the unbeaten Rebels to a school-record 22 wins on the season.
“We learned tonight that beating a team for the third time is very difficult,” Fairfax Coach Amber Beaudoin said. “You have to come to play every night.”
Heritage cruised past Kettle Run, 4-0, on Tuesday to advance to Thursday’s 4A West region championship. Sydney Krieger tallied twice, and Kaitlyn Hardin and Calli Henderson also scored.
The Pride (17-1-1) will host Fauquier, which knocked off Woodgrove, 2-1, in overtime.