On the scoreboard, the final verdict of last Saturday afternoon’s Virginia State AA girls’ soccer championship game read: Broad Run 1, Courtland 0.
But the Spartans, despite the closeness of the final score, were head and shoulders better then their rivals from Spotsylvania.
Broad Run’s state finals and semifinals games were played at Radford University on Friday and Saturday. The Spartans defeated Hidden Valley (Roanoke) on Friday, 4-1, to reach Saturday’s championship.
"It’s the best feeling ever," said Broad Run junior forward Kelly Evans, of the thrill of the Spartans garnering the state title. "I think we should have had more than one goal. We outplayed them and dominated the game."
It was an especially sweet triumph for Broad Run because the Spartans had lost to Courtland, a member of Region 1 and the Battlefield District, at last year’s state quarterfinals.
"What drove [us] this game was sheer motivation and drive," said Broad Run head coach Claire Collins, who also led Broad Run to the state finals in 2004 when it fell to Potomac Falls in the title game. "They wanted Courtland when we formed our team in February."
Throughout the season, Collins said she had received several calls from graduated Broad Run seniors from a year ago who wanted to see the Spartans get back to states and beat the Cougars. And that is exactly what Broad Run did on Saturday.
"They’ve been calling me all season saying, `You better get Courtland,’" said Collins, with a laugh.
<b>THE CHAMPIONSHIP</b> game’s only goal came early in the contest when Broad Run freshman midfielder Ellie Zoepfl found the net on a shot from 18 yards out. She credited teammate Valerie Powell, a senior defender, with setting her up on the score.
"Val passed it back to me, I took a touch forward and kicked it as hard as I could," said Zoepfl. "I really didn’t think it would go in."
Zoepfl said she scored a handful of goals during the regular season. But she’ll always remember the goal that proved to the be the game-winner in the state title match.
The score, which came in the opening minutes of the contest, held up for Broad Run.
"[Coach Collins] said when we score early we play so much better and we settle down," said Zoepfl.
The ninth grader was thrilled to have scored the title game’s lone goal, but said the win was a team thing all the way.
"Everyone played awesome today," she said. "It wasn’t just me."
The Spartans’ defense played an outstanding game in holding Courtland scoreless.
Broad Run, which finished the season unbeaten at 27-0, went into the game believing it had to hold down Cougar standouts Lauren McCoy and Kara Blosser, two of Courtland’s more talented players. The Spartans accomplished that.
"Our defense was definitely on," said Broad Run junior goalie Caitlin Hunter, who earned the shutout in the net.
Both the Broad Run soccer and softball teams won state titles within the same hour at Radford on Saturday. And both teams finished the spring season with perfect, unbeaten records.
"Softball won it last year [and this year]," said Hunter. "[Our soccer team] wanted it real bad this year. It’s definitely a good feeling."
Evans, who scored two goals in Broad Run’s semifinals win, said her team’s heart was the key to its success this season. She also said the Spartan players were a tight group.
"Our heart," said Evans, when asked what one characteristic might best sum up this year’s Broad Run team. "And if you asked every single girl on this team if they loved each other, they’d say yes."
Coach Collins was thrilled to see the Spartans win their first state title in her six years at the helm of the program.
"What a great day," said Collins, following the win. "I’ve never had a [state championship] in my coaching career."
<b>BROAD RUN</b>, which in recent weeks captured both the Dulles District and Region II Championships, advanced to the state finals game as a result of its 4-1 victory over Hidden Valley (Roanoke) last Friday afternoon at Radford.
The Spartans, with the game tied at 1-1, took the lead for good on an Evans close range shot following a corner kick by freshman defender Whitney Church. The score came with four minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the first half and gave Broad Run a 2-1 lead it would never lose.
"Whitney crossed it in [the goal area] and there was kind of a jumble [for the ball]," said Evans, who ultimately knocked it in.
Earlier in the contest, Evans had scored the game’s first goal in the first 20 seconds of play. Right after the opening kickoff to start play, Evans broke free with the ball down the right side of the field before sending a shot into the net from 12 yards out. Evans found a way to score even though she had a poor-shooting angle.
"I got to the corner and I got the shot off," said Evans. "There was no angle, but it worked."
Said coach Collins, "I was amazed [by the goal]. She had no angle. But that’s how good she is."
Collins said Evans has opened several games up this season with early goals and has also found the net several times with the game on the line.
"She’s a workhorse and has done a lot of amazing things for us this season," said Collins. "She has had a lot of game opening goals and game winning goals."
Shortly after Evans’ first goal in the opening seconds of play, Hidden Valley senior forward/midfielder Kendall Robertson struck for a goal of her own to tie the game at 1-1 just two-and-a-half minutes into play.
The score came from eight yards out near the center of the field following a strong Titans’ rush to the net.
"We kind of put our heads down as soon as they got it back," said Evans, of the momentary effect Hidden Valley’s game-tying score had. "But we knew we had to [somehow] walk away with the win."
And Evans helped point the Spartans in that direction with her go-ahead score later in the half, the score that was set up by Church’s corner to make it 2-1.
That remained the score throughout the remainder of the first half and much of the second half before Broad Run gained some breathing room on a goal by senior forward Kelly Smith with 12:55 remaining in the contest.
On the goal, smith, a team tri-captain, broke free with the ball off the right side. Her initial shot attempt was broken up. But in the ensuing sequence of play she gathered up the loose ball and nailed it into the net from close range to give the Spartans a 3-1 lead.
Broad Run put the finishing touches on the semifinals win in the game’s final minute when senior forward Carina Chavez got free off the right side and scored from close range.
Collins said her team played better in the second half then it did over the first 40 minutes.
"They got used to the heat and were challenging the goal keeper more," said the coach.
It was a hard fought win for Broad Run, which overcame both a tough Hidden Valley team as well as the scorching heat to come up victorious.
"It was hard because of the heat," said Broad Run junior midfielder Holly King, of the extremely hot conditions. Then, with a laugh, King said, "In Northern Virginia, we don’t have heat like this."
With the win, Broad Run earned a spot in the state finals the following day and a chance to avenge last year’s state playoff loss to Courtland.
"This is our revenge match," said King, looking ahead to the Courtland game that the Spartans went on to prevail in. "We said at the beginning of the season we wanted to get Courtland."