It was scorching hot, the first truly hot afternoon of the year and that’s the kind of element that can be distracting in a postseason opener.
Albemarle’s girls soccer team isn’t the kind of squad that gets distracted, apparently.
Albemarle unleashed four second half goals after a relatively slow start to beat Patrick Henry-Roanoke 5-1 in the Conference 16 semifinals, earning a Region 5A North tournament berth and a chance to play for a conference title Friday night.
“I think we knew this was a game that would make or break us and even though it was a little bit shaky in the first half that kind of clicked for us,” said Albemarle’s Katie Schnell.
Schnell accounted for two of AHS’s five goals, scoring in the first half on a corner kick set up by Katherine Brady. That gave Albemarle a 1-0 advantage at halftime while they sorted out dealing with a pack of speedy Patrick Henry players who were giving Albemarle some fits.
“They’ve got a few studs going on to play next year (in college) so we expected that but it’s good to see that,” said Albemarle coach Amy Sherrill. “It’s not every game we see someone with that fast pace, relentless effort that’s going to keep going. I was proud of our response to adversity, we did well.”
While Albemarle wasn’t finding the back of the net, they were dominating possession during that half as Patrick Henry rarely created chances before the break. Albemarle’s offense remained confident in part on the strength of Schnell’s first half tally.
“The one is the big key because it really starts motivating us and fueling us,” Schnell said.
Albemarle picked up the scoring pace in the second half, with Leticia Freitas scoring two goals to push the lead to 3-0. Schnell followed with another goal a few minutes after Freitas’ second strike and Fizzy Gonzalez got in on the action right after that to push the lead to 5-0.
Albemarle will square off with Atlee for the Conference 16 title at home Friday at 5:30 p.m.