Robinson senior Kate Mulvenon crashed to the turf, laying there for a moment before bouncing back up and planting her injured right knee onto the home field on which she has played so many games before.
This one was the Virginia 6A state final, and after playing the last two months with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, she didn’t have any plans on missing the final two minutes.
Soon after declining Robinson Coach Liz Case’s offer to sub out, Mulvenon got the ball and looked at the clock to see how much time was left.
“You got this,” Case shouted to Mulvenon, who evaded Centreville’s defenders to wasteaway the final 20 seconds of Robinson’s 16-13 championship victory Saturday in Fairfax.
“I was like, ‘There’s two minutes left in my senior career. I have to stay in,’” Mulvenon said.
The third consecutive state championship for the No. 10 Rams (18-5) wasn’t as easy as the other two. They suffered injuries, they struggled through a tough schedule and they lost twice to Virginia public school opponents after not doing so since 2014.
“Especially because it was our senior year, it was such a good way to end,” said senior Katie Checkosky. “There was no other way I’d like to finish high school. Ending with a three-peat. Not a lot of people can say they won one state championship, let alone three. ”
Robinson scored the game’s first four goals and took a 9-6 lead into intermission. Mulvenon notched three of her four goals in the first half, then assisted on a goal by Grace Tompkins to give the Rams a 14-9 lead in the second half.
Centreville (15-7), which was seeking its first title since winning consecutive championships in 2000 and 2001, nearly climbed out of the five-goal deficit. Senior Elizabeth Murphy (five goals) and junior Paige Richbourg helped the Wildcats cut Robinson’s lead to 14-13 with seven minutes left.
After a timeout, Rams sophomore Haley Prosser set up the last of Elli Kluegel’s four goals — three of which came in the second half — giving Robinson a much-needed cushion.
“We’ve been working for this since last year; for the past three years we’ve been building for this moment,” Kluegel said. “We weren’t going to let it go.”
After posing for pictures, Mulvenon, Kluegel and Checkosky escaped the media and cameras and went to the sideline to grab the orange water cooler. They sneaked behind Case to dump it on the coach’s head.
“It was just so exciting for us because we knew this was our end goal,” Mulvenon said. “There were so many bumps in the road — we’ve had so many injuries, not just me; we’ve had sprained ankles, broken [feet], we had sinus infections.
“Everything was against us and we pulled through and we got over those obstacles.This was why this was so much sweeter.”