Ashburn, VA (May 29, 2019) - They say it's hard to beat the same team three times in a one season. But what about four times?
The Briar Woods Falcons had already dispatched the Freedom Eagles twice in the regular season and once in the Potomac District tournament, so that old adage was out the window. But Freedom had competed well each time so there was hope they could break the trend this time.
Due to sweltering conditions, the match started out slowly. Both teams were playing solid defense, and showed organized midfield play, yet were unusually tentative with an apparent emphasis on playing mistake-free soccer as opposed to a more free-wheeling attacking style.
The first half-ended with no goals scored and virtually no threatening chances on either side. The familiarity that comes with competing against the same team four times was apparent as each team geared their approach to manage the other's strengths.
The second half was more of the same. A very well played game began to look like it was going to be scoreless as well.
But in the 55th minute, Briar Woods finally started to take control of the match, and as a group they pushed repeatedly toward the Freedom goal. Moments later, Falcon forward Sophie Maltese fired off one of the few hard shots of the match that wasn't blocked by an Eagle defender. Freedom keeper Melina Watson ably stopped the shot, but couldn't collect the rebound. Maltese alertly got to the ball, and slotted it by the scrambling defense for the game-winning goal.
Briar Woods advances to the regional final.
Final Score: Briar Woods 1 - Freedom 0