Virginia State Cup: FC Virginia take Under-15 girls’ crown after tough Herndon test
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Until the final of the Under-15s girls’ competition in the Virginia State Cup, FC Virginia United Premier had lived up to their No. 1 seed and swept all before them.
The team had won all three of their previous games, including a comfortable 6-0 victory in the semifinal over Beach FC, who had come into the match as the No. 5 seed in the competition. They would have been confident of another easy victory over Herndon United, their opponent in the final.
The No. 2 seed, Herndon had scored 15 goals in their previous three games, but were coming up against an FC Virginia side that had won the State Cup in this age group in the past three years and determined to continue their victorious streak. Both teams were riding high, and it looked set to be an absorbing encounter.
It proved to be so throughout, as both teams looked very evenly matched and had good chances to score without managing to take them. In spite of the windy conditions at the VYSA Virginia Soccer Training Center, there was plenty of silky passing on display, even as the stiff breeze blew along the length of the field and gave the sides an obvious advantage when playing with the wind for a half.
“The conditions were very trying to play in,” FC Virginia head coach Gus Donolo told SoccerWire.com after the game. “We looked to get a goal when we were playing with the wind in the first half to have an advantage, but could not manage it.
“It was very difficult to play against the wind in the second half; it meant we could not quite play our usual style of soccer.”
Having been scoreless at halftime, both sides came out strong in the second half as they searched for the opening goal and looked to avoid a possible overtime period and a penalty shootout. Herndon looked strong on the counter, while Virginia were able to make good headway against their opponents with some silky passing along the ground.
Finally, the deadlock was broken midway through the second half by FC Virginia, as Maria Pareja’s shot from just outside the box sailed into the top corner. Playing against the wind in the second half, FCV were at a significant disadvantage in the conditions but managed to take the lead against the odds.
The goal seemed to energise Herndon even more, and they continued to look strong on the break, and forced a brilliant save from FCV’s goalkeeper in the closing stages. That seemed to give them confidence, and Herndon had the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for offside in what turned out to be their best chance of the day.
The final whistle signaled FC Virginia’s fourth State Cup win in a row in the Under-15s girls’ age group, but it had been a true battle between the top two seeds as they wrestled for dominance in an absorbing game.
The champions finished the competition without having conceded a goal, but the final was perhaps their most trying examination, against a Herndon team that lived up to their No. 2 seed and could so easily have taken the win themselves.