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Group AAA Boys Soccer: Albemarle defeats Colonial Forge for state crown
PATRIOTS DISPLAY MORE ENERGY THAN DISTRICT RIVALS IN 3-0 VICTORY
BY ADAM HIMMELSBACH
CHANTILLY—Moments after the Colonial Forge boys soccer team’s 3–0 loss to Albemarle in the Group AAA state championship on Saturday, Eagles coach Jeremy Sargent approached Patriots coach Scott Jackson with a question.
“What the heck did you do yesterday?” Sargent said. “I thought you played 100 minutes.”
Albemarle had played 100 minutes in its semifinal victory that ended in a penalty kick shootout. Colonial Forge then did the same in its semifinal win. Yet when the teams met in the title game, Albemarle seemed fresh, and Colonial Forge seemed sluggish.
Eagles midfielder Kevin Roberts said he drank a protein shake before he went to sleep Friday night, and when he woke up Saturday his legs were as heavy as dumbbells. Eagles defender Christian Lopez said he was physically exhausted.
Yes, since Albemarle’s semifinal game was played first on Friday, the Patriots had a few extra hours to rest and recuperate, but the Colonial Forge players were still stunned by how much energy Albemarle was able to muster.
“I don’t know how,” Roberts said, “but they seemed less tired than we were.”
Albemarle’s championship completed a startling reversal in its season series against Colonial Forge. The Eagles won both regular-season meetings between these two teams, as well as the Commonwealth District tournament final. Then, in the Northwest Region title game, Colonial Forge held a 2–0 lead with less than 30 minutes left before Albemarle erupted for three goals to steal the win.
Over the last 110 minutes—30 in the regional final, and 80 in the state title game—Albemarle improbably outscored Colonial Forge, 6–0.
“It was just this mentality we had,” Albemarle senior Rowen Perry said. “We wanted this more ever since we were down 2–0 in regionals.”
In the state final, Albemarle did not have to overcome any deficits. In just the third minute, Perry fed Kai Marshall, who broke free on the right side and popped a low shot past Colonial Forge keeper Nolan Smith.
The Eagles had an excellent chance to answer in the 28th minute, as Justin Prouty took possession and had a one-on-one matchup with Albemarle keeper Matt Natale. But Natale slid at the last second to knock away Prouty’s shot and preserve the lead.
These Eagles have been resilient all year, however, and they would not fade without a fight. Two minutes after halftime, the speedy striker Manuel Madrid carried the ball down the right side of the penalty box. From a seemingly impossible angle, his hard shot caromed off the crossbar. Colonial Forge’s Andrew Gogolin controlled the rebound with his back to the goal, turned, and then fired, but the ball sailed high.
Three minutes later, Albemarle capitalized on a chance. Smith saved Perry’s initial shot before Andrew Solomon deposited the rebound to make it 2–0. When Victor Zarate slid a low shot into the net in the 62nd minute to give his team a 3–0 edge, the Eagles began to realize that their dream would be deferred.
Albemarle fans chanted “AHS!” as the final seconds ticked off the clock. After the last whistle, the Patriots stormed onto the field and bobbed up and down together as the Eagles trudged toward their sideline.
Later, when the Colonial Forge players gathered, Sargent reminded them of all they had accomplished. They played in district, regional and state title games, and they registered a school-record 21 wins. This team was guided all year by its seniors, most notably co-captains Roberts and Tim Clancy, and Sargent acknowledged their contributions.
“And for the rest of you,” he told his players, “there’s unfinished business.”
The sting of this loss is still fresh, but sometime soon the Eagles will look back proudly at this season and look forward with anticipation for the next one. There were 24 players suited up for Saturday’s game, and 19 of them are underclassmen.
“They’ve got a lot of potential,” Clancy said, “and I’m excited to see what they can do.”
Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442