Goals just weren’t happening for Western Albemarle girls soccer. Chance after chance in the first half came up empty for the Warriors.
“(Assistant coach Robert Crickenberger) talked at halftime and kept saying it’s coming, it’s going to come but towards the end I honestly didn’t ever know if it was ever going to come,” said Western senior Abby Zimmerman.
It did though, and the defending state champions in Class 3 advanced past Lord Botetourt with a 1-0 win in the state quarterfinals. Freshman Ellie Cox, the hero of the Albemarle game on the road earlier this year after hitting a game-winner, delivered again with a goal with 11:17 to play.
“We were obviously really frustrated going 0-0 until the final 12 minutes but I think it shows we have determination — we’ll never quit,” said Western’s Savannah Wilson. “We want it more than anybody.”
That fierceness showed down the stretch as Western turned up the intensity and physicality in an effort to power past the Cavaliers. Cox helped provide some of that energy and edge.
“She comes off the bench with so much energy and so much determination as a freshman, coming up big twice is just really impressive,” Zimmerman said.
With about 12 minutes left, Wilson dribbled down the sideline and crossed it in. Zimmerman tried to finish the cross, meeting the ball at the same time as the Botetourt keeper connected and it ricocheted back out of the collision right to Cox. Cox spotted an open side of the goal on the left, saw it and shot it, scoring off the rebound. Cox is starting to settle into a role as a more offensive-minded midfielder for the Warriors. In club soccer she plays a more defensive, holding role in the midfield, but Western coach Jake Desch moved her into an attacking role.
“It’s kind of nervewracking at first getting the opportunity to score, it’s scary being that close to the goal because before playing on this team, I never was,” Cox said.
While Cox provided the difference maker against Botetourt who employed four defenders for essentially the entire game, Western’s defense held up their end of the bargain. Shannon Moore, Julia Berg and Kate DeJong locked down or turned back a number of possessions and chances by the Cavaliers while Bailey Wood came up with the shutout in net. With Jane Romness doing her usual work at defensive midfield, the Warriors were able to largely neutralize the Cavaliers’ attack.
Western advances to the state semifinals at Roanoke College where they’ll square off with Hidden Valley, who edged Monticello in another quarterfinal 1-0 on Tuesday on a second half penalty kick.