By Jimmy LaRoue
Midlothian, Va. – VSA Heat 96G coach Gus Donolo said he has never seen a better goalkeeper at defending penalties than Zoe Foxhall.
With her team’s Virginia Under-15 Girls State Cup final against PWSI Courage 96 Red tied 3-3 after regulation and overtime on Sunday, Foxhall’s skill paid off. She made two saves, on Courage’s first and last attempts, and with Heat converting on all four of their attempts, those stops secured the title with a 4-3 shootout win.
VSA Heat 96G have now qualified for the 2012 Region I U.S. Youth Soccer Region I Championships in Hershey, Penn. next June.
“I have had a lot of ‘keepers that I’ve gone through since I started coaching 12 years ago,” Donolo said. “And she just has a magnet to the ball against the players that take the PK. She always goes to the correct side. Half of it is guessing, but she also is trained very well to look at the girls’ hips when they shoot and how they position their body…She always looks them in the eye.”
Kelli Burney, Kristin Schnurr, Becca Callison and Sarah Strachan converted Heat’s penalties. It’s the second State Cup title for Heat 96G, who led 2-0 with just a few minutes left in regulation. However, Skylar Dowell scored twice for Courage to force overtime.
The Heat scored first early in overtime before Courage rallied once more in the latter stages, scoring on a penalty-kick conversion from Sara Deutsch to force penalties.
Donolo said the players were well prepared despite being forced to penalties in Saturday’s semifinal win over FASA Elite Impact. The team stayed in nearby Richmond overnight, ate well Saturday night, then woke up early for breakfast, had an hour of tactical meetings and then spent another 40 minutes watching video and talking more tactics before taking the field.
“We really treat this team like a professional team,” Donolo said.
With their place in the Region I tournament secure, the Heat are able to focus on tactics rather than trying to play their way into the field.
“Although every team plays to win, now we can play a little more relaxed knowing that we’re already going to regionals,” Donolo said.