Battlefield’s Colleen Gawkins and Bri Toelle entered Saturday’s Virginia AAA state semifinal against Cox with a combined 44 goals, but the star forwards could only watch as their season hung in the balance in the eighth round of a penalty kick shootout.
The moment belonged to a quiet junior defender named Lexi Moylan.
Moylan found the back of the net for the first time this season at the perfect time for the Bobcats, delivering a line drive into the lower right corner to lift Battlefield 5-4 in penalties over Cox in a marathon state semifinal at Westfield.
Battlefield (21-1-2) advances to Sunday’s state final against Deep Run, which outlasted Colonial Forge, 1-0, in the first semifinal.
“I’ve done it a million times in practice,” Moylan said of her game-winner. “Not quite like that.”
Battlefield was forced to wait 24 hours to play a semifinal originally scheduled for Friday but postponed because of inclement weather. And the Bobcats had to wait even longer for a result after four overtimes, including two sudden death periods that left both teams wobbly from the heat.
It was the third time in four games that the Bobcats have gone to overtime, which includes last week’s 1-0 shootout win over Yorktown in the quarterfinals. Saturday’s contest was eventually decided by individual showdowns in the shootout.
Gawkins (28 goals) had limited touches in the first half, but Toelle picked up the slack with a goal 10 minutes in when Cox’s keeper came out to the top of the box and bobbled away a save. After Cox tied the game on an Ashley Whited penalty kick in the 64th minute, the Falcons held on to force overtime and the shootout — where both teams converted three of their first five attempts.
The difference late was Battlefield All-Met goalkeeper Taylor Kerxton who made three saves in the shootout, including an acrobatic diving stop against Olivia Kemper in the eighth round, which kept the score tied at 4 apiece.
“She’s a senior. She’s been a four-year starter for us. This is her third trip [to the state tournament],” Battlefield Coach Kevin Hilton said. “She’s out here driven to win a state championship.”
Kerxton set up an unlikely hero in Moylan, who after making her kick sprinted to midfield to be mobbed by her teammates. Among those hugging her were Gawkins and Toelle, the two offensive juggernauts who have carried Battlefield all season. Moylan was just satisfied to do her part Saturday, and end the wait for Battlefield’s chase to return to its second state final in four years.
“We were tired out there. I mean it was a hot day, it’s on the turf. We were just exhausted,” Moylan said. “We were just trying to get more opportunities.”