Sometimes you’ve got to be willing to change things up that are working to find something even better. Like moving your regular keeper, Catie Grebe, out into the field.
“Catie (Grebe) will do whatever our team needs,” said Albemarle coach Amy Sherrill.
Albemarle already has a lot of speed up top — Fizzy Gonzalez and Katie Schnell pack a serious punch. Put Grebe, a member of the Patriots’ indoor track team’s 4×400 squad that finished fifth in the state up there and it’s borderline lethal.
Mountain View found that out Thursday night as the Patriots took a 3-0 lead that held up as the final in the Class 5, Region D title game that was cut short by 26 minutes after a weather delay.
“We came out right on fire, complete opposite of last year’s region final,” Sherrill said. “(Grebe) just gave them havoc up top.”
Last year, the Patriots had to rally against the Wildcats in the region final, escaping with a 3-2 win on the road in overtime thanks to a Brooke Bauman blast. This time around, there was a lot less drama.
Grebe moved into the field in the second half of the Patriots’ win over Massaponax, but this time Albemarle went with the shift from the opening kickoff, putting Jaya Daniel in net. The move paid immediate dividends. With Grebe drawing some attention by making the Wildcats work, Schnell struck first on an assist from Gonzalez before Gonzalez snagged a goal of her own off a feed from Maggie McMullin. Kora Jillions tacked on a third goal with a combined assist from Grebe and Makinna Winterton.
While the offense was cooking early, Daniel did face a pair of early tests and stood up, making two of her three total saves in the opening minutes. Beyond that, the Patriots were able to hem in the Wildcats for the most part.
“She’s so composed, she doesn’t show her nerves,” Sherrill said of Daniel. “She made two incredible saves and we really have a lot of trust and faith in her.”
Clearly, making that kind of shift at this point in the season. Quite suddenly, Albemarle has a new energy, a jolt of freshness and an essentially new weapon in Grebe along with their usual strong defense led by Megan Schantz and Gracie Williams that locked up Mountain View.
That group has earned another home game Monday in the Class 5 state quarterfinals against the loser of the Potomac Falls/Briar Woods Region C championship clash scheduled for Friday.