This season was expected to be a rebuilding year of sorts for the Battlefield girls’ soccer team. After claiming the Virginia AAA Northwest Region title and reaching the state semifinals in 2011, the third-ranked Bobcats were set to lose eight players from the team, including six four-year starters.
Then came three transfer students who have boosted the team’s hopes.
“We went from hoping we make regionals possibly to being a legitimate state contender,” Battlefield Coach Kevin Hilton said.
Two of the players, senior forward Martina Trenholm and junior defender Stephanie Bruns, moved to Battlefield’s district from South Carolina powerhouse Wando. Trenholm has already scored six goals in the Bobcats’ first five games and Bruns is working her way back into the team’s rotation after a concussion suffered in practice earlier this season, Hilton said.
The third player, junior forward Bri Toelle (Iowa commit), moved from Colorado. She is also recovering from a concussion (suffered during a club game) and is expected back fully after spring break. But she has already had an impact, as well, scoring a goal in a 2-2 tie with No. 6 Robinson on Mar. 12 and is a “very explosive” player, according to Hilton.
Battlefield’s core of returning players — junior goalie Taylor Kerxton (Wake Forest), senior defender Sammie Trone (Radford), junior defender Alexa Wagoner (Iona) and speedy sophomore forward Colleen Gawkins — is talented. But the added pieces give the Bobcats more depth and confidence.
Battlefield is dealing with a spate of injuries. In addition to the concussions to two of the newcomers, Wagoner is working her way back from a concussion. So with only one game this week (a 7-0 win over Gar-Field) and next week off because of spring break, the Bobcats are benefiting from some fortuitous timing.
“It’s worked out,” Hilton said. “I’m actually glad we’ve got this time off so we can recover from these injuries.”. . .
Mark Malloy takes over at Forest Park and Dylan Forshay is Oakton’s third coach in four years.
Despite graduating eight seniors from last year’s team, the Bruins return their two leading goal scorers from last season: sophomore forward Annah Lindberg and junior forward Vanessa Kovar. Senior defender Madison Black and senior midfielder Sarah Walters are the team’s anchors.
The Cougars, the defending AAA Concorde District champions, are an experienced squad with 14 seniors, the same players who reached the state quarterfinals as freshmen. The group is headlined by a handful of Division I players: senior forward Danielle Fitzgerald (Kentucky), senior midfielder Lexie Krall (UNC-Wilmington), senior forward Alex Meyers (UNC-Charlotte) and senior goal keeper Alex Weaver (UNC-Charlotte). Senior midfielder Caroline Coyer and defender Katherine Coyer are Villanova signees for basketball.
After missing the season opener due to a red card suspension and then sitting for a second game due to disciplinary reasons, Falls Church finally got star forward OJ Porteria into the lineup for the third game of the season.
The results since the senior’s return have been drastic.
After scoring just one goal in their first two games without Porteria, the Jaguars (2-1-2) have netted 10 since. Almost all of them have gone through the senior.
“When we didn’t have O.J. Porteria in the lineup it was clear our team didn’t have that extra dimension,” Falls Church Coach Kris Benton said. “And when we inserted him back in, we got that extra dimension back. Every time he touches the ball it’s energizing for our team. He was a huge energy boost.”
Against T.C. Williams, Porteria’s final two goals came after the Titans battled back from 3-0 down to take a 4-3 lead. Both came in the final 10 minutes, completing an accomplishment Porteria said he’d never done “in an outdoor game.”
“I didn’t really think of it as a five-goal game,” he said. “I was pretty lucky that we got the win because they did come back after we were winning 3-0. I’m just happy we won.”