One goal. Endless opportunities. Or at least that appeared to be the case in Veterans High School’s 2-1 loss to Starr’s Mill in the second round of the GHSA Class AAAAA state soccer tournament Tuesday at Freedom Field.
The Lady Warhawks – finishing their year at 17-2-1 – nearly scored within the first minute. They took the opening ball and drove into Lady Panthers territory. A lob was fed to Brenley Townsend over the middle. She fielded it, or at least tried to, but was sandwiched in between two Starr’s Mill players and sent sprawling. She was awarded a penalty kick, but it was blocked. Veterans, however, was successful in keeping it at that end of the field. That yielded a corner kick about a minute later. It crossed where Sage Sammeli fought among the crowd and managed to get a header on it and strike it into the net for the goal. The clock read 36:51.
Starr’s Mill did try to answer that right back when it drove down for a corner. That was unsuccessful as it sailed from one side to the other and out of bounds. For most of the rest of the half – in fact for most of the game to a greater extent – the aggressor was the Lady Warhawks.
At 29:24 they had another corner opportunity, but it was cleared. At 26:06 Townsend took a pass and worked her way across the middle. When she finally found daylight, she took a hard kick. It struck the keeper’s leg and bounded away where Sammeli just happened to be. She took another shot but a Lady Panther headed it out of bounds.
Danielle Coumbs stole a ball and worked her way to a one-on-one at 23:35. That ended with her missing just left of the bar. There was a corner at 20:43 and several shots following where Starr’s Mill’s keeper – Kara Dial in the first half and Abby Weaver in the second – came out to intercept and end the threat.
The Lady Panthers’ goal came with 4:03 left before the break. Sara Evans, despite being a freshman, clearly presented a threat down the right side. Such was why Starr’s Mill persisted in trying to work it to her. The majority of those Veterans was able to turn away. One they weren’t, was a lob she was able to take in stride, sprint to the goal and boot in the right corner of the net.
The tie was where it stood at the half.
The Lady Panthers scored the go-ahead goal 37:48 into the second half. A pass was fed to Sofia Varmeziar. She took it for a one-on-one, got Victoria Moore on the left of the net and fed it as far right as possible for the goal.
Amber McNeal had a chance to tie it less than a minute later, but Weaver came out to meet her – as she did for several shots – and blocked her attempt. And so it went. Coumbs had two one-on-one attempts (24:11 and 18:28), Janeyce Brown one (5:42) and there were several others. That isn’t to say attempts were at a premium. Starr’s Mill challenged everything, and Veterans had to earn what it got. In the end, however, it was what it was. One goal. Endless opportunities.