Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bobcats, Rams Make It Another All-Local Affair

Bobcats, Rams Make It Another All-Local Affair
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, June 7, 2008; E06

Battlefield girls' soccer coach Kevin Hilton could only watch, cross his arms and kick his feet in the dirt yesterday, feeling unprepared as he watched Cox's coaches set up a tent over their sideline bench to shield their players from the intense sun and heat during their Virginia AAA semifinal at Westfield High.

An Eastern Region girls' soccer power that has made it to the past two state finals, Cox knew what to expect this time of year.

No. 10 Battlefield, a fourth-year team from Haymarket, was shielded from the scalding sun only because Lake Braddock Athletic Director Mark Martino lent the Bobcats his team's tent -- a purple overhang with the words "Lake Braddock" painted in bright yellow lettering on all four sides.

And though Battlefield doesn't have the same storied state tournament history as Lake Braddock -- a five-time state champion and winner of the past two state titles -- the Bobcats did what Lake Braddock has done in each of the last two seasons: end Cox's season.

Yesterday's 2-1 victory over Cox gave the Bobcats their first state final appearance -- a 1 p.m. meeting today with No. 1 Robinson (20-1) at Westfield -- where they hope to put the relatively unknown program on the state soccer map.

"Nobody knows about Battlefield, but we just proved right now that we are ready to play with the best programs," said Bobcats sophomore Sahar Aflaki, who charged past a Cox defender in the 69th minute, stole possession inside the penalty box and finished off the game-winner with a right-footed low roller to the far post from an angle that forced her to "do the impossible," she said.

Robinson improved its winning streak to 15, downing No. 8 Woodbridge, 3-2, in yesterday's other semifinal. Annie Hovland's 25-yard, free-kick lob shot set up today's all-Northern Virginia final.

The championship game will mark the 24th time in 25 seasons of the tournament's existence that a team from Northern Virginia will capture the state title. Since 1984, Northern Virginia has stockpiled state titles, with traditional powers West Springfield (five), Lake Braddock (five), W.T. Woodson (four), Robinson (four), Lee (two) and Woodbridge (two) combining for 22 of the previous 24 championships. Kellam of Virginia Beach, which won the championship in 2005, is the only non-Northern Virginia team that has won an AAA state title.

Robinson last won the state title in 2002.

The Rams ended Woodbridge's 19-game winning streak by getting goals from Hovland (her eighth of the season), Kristen Smith (11 goals, 10 assists this season) and Jensen Smith (six goals).

Woodbridge, which got goals from Kristen Lybert (30 goals) and Casey Burdette (seven goals), ended its season at 20-2.

The Bobcats outshot Cox, 15-14, with eight of their shots on goal. Cox (20-4), which had allowed 10 goals and had 15 shutouts this spring, gave up its most goals since a 3-2 loss to Robinson on March 14.

Battlefield was "the underdog today against Cox," Hovland said. "I think they are going to be fired up."

No comments: