Sunday, June 08, 2008

Five-Star Performance Puts Robinson Back on Top

Five-Star Performance Puts Robinson Back on Top
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 8, 2008; D10

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After scoring the game-winner on a 25-yard, free-kick lob shot in Friday's Virginia AAA girls' soccer semifinal, Robinson junior midfielder Annie Hovland dragged her finger across her sweat-soaked yellow jersey.

She pointed to a line of four stars underneath her shoulder, each representing one of the Rams' four state titles.

Hovland was one of six Rams who played more than 85 minutes yesterday in a 2-1, double-overtime championship game victory over Battlefield. They withstood scorching heat at Westfield High and Battlefield's high-speed approach to give No. 1 Robinson (21-1) its 17th straight victory and first state title since 2002.

"It feels good to know we put that star there," said Robinson junior forward LeighAnne Baxter, who finished an 88th-minute low-roller to the right side, ending a taut defensive affair in which Robinson struggled to score as its best finisher -- sophomore forward Audrey Barry (18 goals, 10 assists) -- played limited minutes after injuring her right leg in Friday's 2-1 victory over Woodbridge.

"After regulation, we all wanted it so bad," said Hovland, who solidified the midfield, frustrating Battlefield's high-octane offense into a mere four shots on goal.The Rams' back line -- sophomore Cole Miller, sophomore All-Met Ali Heck and junior Monika Criman -- played all 90 minutes, stymieing Bobcats forwards Sahar Aflaki and Jessica Jewell, who entered the game having combined for 58 of Battlefield's 96 goals this spring.

The No. 10 Bobcats (22-3) scored first when Jewell took Alyson Shaughnessy's midfield lob pass and fought through two defenders before sending a right-footed 10-yard finish to the back left corner of the goal in the 65th minute.

"We knew were going to have our hands full with those two great players up top," Heck said.

Less than 30 seconds after Jewell's finish, Robinson's Stephanie Johnson streaked untouched up the right sideline and touched in Baxter's cross off the right post, an equalizer that trickled into the front right corner.

The Rams outscored their opponents 62-14 this season, earned 10 shutouts and averaged 2.8 goals per game.The championship game marked the 24th time in 25 seasons of the tournament's existence that a team from Northern Virginia captured the state title.

Robinson's title victory also tied the Rams with Lake Braddock and West Springfield for the most state titles in the tournament's history.

"It's awesome because we have a lot of young talent," said Heck, one of nine starters expected to return next season. "We can probably do it again next year."

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