Eight In A Row
EMHS Wins Another BRC Girls’ Soccer Title, 3-2
HARRISONBURG — As the Eastern Mennonite High School girls’ soccer team warmed up for the conference championship game Saturday, players wore blue T-shirts with the Latin phrase “Succisa Virescit” in white letters on the back. It means, “Having been cut down, it grows back stronger.”
The motto referred to the Flames’ loss in last year’s state championship, and their desire to go back and do better.
They didn’t necessarily expect the phrase to apply on Saturday in the Blue Ridge Conference title game.
Liberty Christian Academy became the first league team all season to hold a lead against the Flames, taking a 1-0 advantage on a corner kick in the 17th minute. But EMHS retaliated with three unanswered goals before the end of the half, then held on for a 3-2 victory and its eighth consecutive BRC title.
“It did [catch us by surprise] at first,” said senior Molly Hine, named the BRC Player of the Year after the match, of going down early. “But then, I was like, ‘OK, just shake it off, pick up your head, we’ll get it right back.”’
LCA freshman Natalia Tomlin’s header off senior Elizabeth Kappler’s cross in the 24th minute was just the fifth goal all season against EMHS (16-1-2), unanimously ranked No. 1 all year in Division II of the Virginia Independent Schools Association.
“It was weird,” EMHS coach Jason Capps said of being down early, “but we knew we were OK.”
Sophomore Taylor Pisk, known by her teammates as the “Honey Badger,” proved it.
In the 24th minute, Pisk stole the ball around midfield. With an open teammate streaking down the left side, a determined Pisk decided instead to dribble through three Bulldog defenders, cut the ball back to her left foot and shoot to the back post to knot the game at 1.
“I noticed that there were two [LCA] players that were not in the right position, so I took it right down the middle, and I just cut past another one, and I shot with my left foot,” Pisk said.
If nothing else, the Flames’ three goals had variety.
After Pisk’s individual onslaught, senior Michaela Mast gave EMHS the lead in the 33rd minute with a 40-yard ball even she admitted was meant mainly as a cross. But it bounced under the arm of senior goalkeeper Victoria Thomas and into the net.
The third goal a little over a minute later, though, was much prettier. Four quick passes, each of them switching from one side of the field to another, ended with Rebekah Hertzler’s blast in front of the net.
“The third goal we gave up was kind of a garbage goal — it was one of those, the momentum had shifted, our girls had their head down, and they let a third goal go in,” LCA coach John Caudill said. “It ended up costing us.”
LCA (12-6) scored the only goal of the second half when junior Ellie Tomlin headed in another cross from Kappler in the 53rd minute. The Bulldogs continued turning up the pressure during the game’s final 27 minutes, out-shooting EMHS 8-1 in the second half as the Flames played a more conservative, defense-oriented style while the Bulldogs desperately sought a tying goal that never came.
The Flames will host a VISAA D-II state tournament quarterfinal Tuesday against No. 8-seed Tandem Friends. The semifinals Friday and the championship game Saturday will be held at Ukrop Park in Richmond.
LCA, ranked No. 9 entering the BRC tournament, did not make the eight-team state tourney.
Halftime score: EM, 3-0
Shots on goal: LC 5; EM 7
Corner kicks: LC 3; EM 3
Saves: LC 4 (Thomas); EM 3 (Wenger).
Scoring: LC - N. Tomlin (Kappler) 16:03, E. Tomlin (Kappler) 52:18; EM - Pisk 23:48, Mast 32:25, Hertzler (Byler) 33:52