2022.05.31 Girls Soccer: Region 5D Semifinal, Independence @ Potomac Falls

Potomac Falls, VA (May 31, 2022) - On April 21, the Potomac Falls Panthers travelled to play the Independence Tigers and won, 3-2. On May 9, Indy returned the favor and beat Potomac Falls on their home turf, 4-1. Since then, both teams have won first round regional games, with the Panthers winning as expected, 2-0, over Harrisonburg, and the Tigers upsetting second-seeded Massaponax. This game, the rubber match, would decide who would advance to the regional championship.

Chas Sumser Photography was there to capture the action and emotion and posted a gallery of images from the game.

In the first half, both teams had two corner kicks, but neither offense really threatened to score beyond those attempts. The best chance that anyone had came very late in the first half when the Panthers attack got behind the Independence defense, but couldn’t get off a clear shot at keeper Reiley Fitzpatrick. The attempt was cleared with no harm done as the half ended.

While the majority of play has been in the independence defensive end, the Tigers had done a good job of keeping the Potomac Falls aggressive forward line at bay. At the other end, Panther keeper Emma Buytenhuys had little to do in the first forty minutes. That may have due, in part, to the absence of Reagan Wise--the Tigers' dynamic striker--who was unavailable due to illness.  

Early in the second half, Potomac Falls had another huge opportunity when, in the 48th minute, Olivia Duhaim pushed the ball through to Ella Valente who was briefly alone on goal, but the Independence defense came through with a last-second tackle and only gave up a corner kick. Moments later, a brilliant full-field run by Valente was also narrowly diverted from goal by a Fitzpatrick fingertip.

In the 50th minute, the Panthers finally got the go-ahead goal they were looking for, and it came from the unlikeliest of sources. After a corner kick bounced in the penalty--rebounding off of several players on both teams--freshman JV call-up Brooke Goepfert took a shot that got by Fitzpatrick and into the lower right corner for a 1-0 Potomac falls lead. And six minutes later, Duhaime got behind the Indy defense and calmly placed the ball into the lower left corner to double the margin at 2-0.

With twenty minutes remaining, the Tigers went into desperation mode. Struggling to muster the energy needed due to intense heat, Independence pushed into the Panthers' defensive end, but could not generate many dangerous chances. With time running out, their efforts were rewarded with a free kick from thirty-five yards out. Taking the kick, Kaitlyn Nimmer lofted a shot with pinpoint accuracy and beat second half Potomac Falls keeper Amy Cruz. Suddenly, the Tigers were within striking distance, but with only five minutes remaining they were unable to find the tying goal.

Potomac Falls advances to the region finals--where they will face the Briar Woods Falcons--and qualifies for the state tournament.

Final Score: Potomac Falls 2 - Independence 1 

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