Saturday, May 03, 2008

Balance Of Power Shifts in Patriot

Balance Of Power Shifts in Patriot
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, May 3, 2008; E05

Following last night's 1-0 home victory over two-time defending Virginia AAA state champion Lake Braddock, South County's players pumped their fists as they flooded the field and giggled throughout a postgame huddle with their coach.

The joy -- or relief -- came naturally for a team seeking confirmation that it is the best in what is considered Virginia's most skilled conference, the Virginia AAA Patriot District -- where Lake Braddock (6-4, 5-1) has reigned in recent seasons, sending 32 players to college soccer programs in the past eight years.

"We went into this game knowing that they had been the best team and we wanted to change that," said South County junior Paige Ritari, who recorded her sixth assist on a 44th minute left-footed cross that sophomore Morgan Duffy buried with a leaping left-footed touch.

The victory gave No. 3 South County (9-0-2, 4-0-1) the top seed in the upcoming district tournament and ended No. 10 Lake Braddock's winning streak at five.

"We weren't scared going into this game," said Duffy, who has five goals and two assists and is part of an attack that is scoring 2.7 goals per game.

The Stallions' defense has allowed five goals, shut out eight opponents and outscored 11 opponents 30-5.

Talented players such as Duffy, Ritari and speedy forward Alex Reed (nine goals, four assists) have put the third-year Lorton program on the soccer map, tying West Springfield last week and downing traditional Northern Region giants such as Centreville before dominating Lake Braddock in every key category including shots on goal (14-8) and corner kicks (7-5).

The school draws from a talent pool that includes six premier Division I club players, 14 players who have played at the Region I Premier or WAGS Division I level -- including three players whose club team is a current Virginia State Cup Champion.

And considering that starting goalkeeper Caitlyn Kost (32 saves), Duffy and Reed are all sophomores and Kelley Johnson (three goals, two assists) is a freshman, the power shift might be seismic rather than temporary.

"Before when people thought of Patriot District, they thought of West Springfield and Lake Braddock, but now South County is going to pop in their minds and probably stick out the most," Reed said.

No. 3 South County 1 No. 10 Lake Braddock 0 Helpers: Of South County's 29 goals, 20 have been assisted. A Bruin Keeper: Lake Braddock junior goalkeeper Caitlin Landsman had 13 saves in last night's loss.

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