2023.05.30 Boys Soccer: Region 4C Semifinal, Loudoun County @ Handley

Winchester, VA (May 30, 2023) - John Handley High School towers proudly above the school's home stadium field. The setting is both beautiful and intimidating at the same time, and the Judges were hoping for more of the latter as they welcomed the Loudoun County Captains in this regional championship.

The Judges earned the right to host by upsetting the top two seeds in the Northwestern District tournament. The Captains, the regular season Dulles District champions, lost the post-season tournament championship to Tuscarora, which put them on the road. 

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

It took all of twenty seconds for County to put a threatening shot on Judges keeper Owen Turnbull. He made the save and ignited a race down the right sideline. Leaving two Captain defenders in his wake, Jonathan Romero pushed the ball past keeper Luke Morrison for a stunning, 1-0, Handley lead with just a minute gone in the game.

But Loudoun County is known for their composure, and they gathered it quickly. At midfield, Jack Martin and Connor Campbell controlled the tempo and began pushing back into the Judges defensive third. A break came when they were awarded a free kick on the left side about thirty yards out from the Handley goal. The lofted kick landed in the Handley penalty area, where Alex Ahedo was the first one to get to it. The Captains' forward made no mistake, and tied the score, 1-1, in the 11th minute.

The remainder of the half was uneventful as both teams organized their defenses and prevented any further scoring. Jackson Justice and Jag Fitzsimmons were instrumental centrally for the Judges.

The second half began just like the first, but with the opposite result. Three minutes in, it was Captains forward Brian Mora who raced down the right flank, beat two Handley defenders, and scored to give County their first lead of the game, 2-1.

From that point, the intensity cranked up with each passing minute. Both teams had near misses, but no additional goals to show for their efforts. In particular, Handley had three corner kicks that resulted in decent chances. On the second one, the Judges had multiple opportunities including a shot that bounced off the crossbar before the ball was finally cleared by the Captains' defense.

Handley's great post-season run ends here while Loudoun County advances to the regional championship and the Class 4 state tournament.

Final Score: Loudoun County 2 - Handley 1 

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