Madison midfielder Julia Leas heads the ball during the Warhawks’ 2-1 loss to First Colonial in the Virginia Class 6 girls’ soccer title game. Leas had Madison’s goal. (Ryan M. Kelly/For The Washington Post)

In the second half of the Virginia Class 6 girls’ soccer championship game, Madison was down by one goal and doing everything right. Its players were physical, smart, tactical — all of the things that had produced an undefeated regular season and historic playoff run. An equalizer seemed inevitable.

 But the Warhawks just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. They pushed ahead and pushed ahead, fired shots and corner kicks and through balls to no avail. And as all of this was happening, time slipped away.

The Warhawks’ perfect season ended with a 2-1 loss to First Colonial at Glen Allen High on Saturday. It ended in frustration, in disbelief and, for many of the players and coaching staff, in tears. 

“It’s all on us. We can’t blame this on anything else,” junior midfielder Julia Leas said. “But we played our hearts out.”

The Warhawks were going for their first state championship, led by a stout defense and a dominant midfield. All year they had overwhelmed opponents, blazing a trail of shutouts and blowouts through Northern Virginia. 

“We put this team on the map,” senior midfielder Abby Fusca said. 

But Saturday started differently. Madison created plenty of early chances but couldn’t convert them.

First Colonial’s chances were far less frequent, but when they came, it took advantage. Senior Abigail Wagner scored from just inside the box early in the first half, and then senior Isabelle Blomdahl made it 2-0 right before halftime. The second goal was especially shocking for Madison (18-1-2) and its fans, because the team hadn’t given up more than one goal in a game this season.

“I was keeping it positive at halftime,” Madison Coach Devon Dowell said. “They saw that we could do it in the second half. They knew we could be the better team and they had it in them to keep pushing in the second.”

The second half was similar to the first, but it was even more frustrating for the Warhawks. The Patriots (20-1-0) packed their defense in and played smart, strong soccer as Madison hammered away. Leas’s goal 10 minutes into the second half looked like it would be the catalyst for a rally, but no more followed it. Madison finished the game with 15 shots, while First Colonial had six. 

“That’s soccer for you,” Dowell said. “We dominated the entire second half. We came back, we got the goal, we did what we needed to do. Sometimes you’re just unlucky. You have to give props to the other team always. You can never take it away from them. But it just sucks because we destroyed them in the second half.

The Warhawks, who made it to the state semifinals last year, stood in clusters of hugs after the game. Madison loses a strong group of seniors this season, one that helped set up the team for a bright future.

After receiving her second place medal, Leas hugged her coach and said, “Every year we get one step closer.”