By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- It was apparent from the beginning of Friday's Bull Run District girls soccer match between host Central and William Monroe that goals were going to be hard to come by.
That theme carried through much of the game as neither team found the back of the net for the first 70 minutes of action before both teams registered a goal in the match's final 10 minutes.
The 80 minutes of regulation were followed by two scoreless overtime periods, ending the match in a 1-all tie.
"We played fantastic -- a vast improvement from our last game against Rappahannock [County]," said Falcons coach Hap Kwiatkowski. "We possessed the ball more -- they had a lot of good combination plays.
"I was impressed with our defense, too."
A large part of Central's defense success rested on the shoulders of junior Carlie Pool, a striker-turned-keeper, who tallied 19 saves, including one on a William Monroe penalty kick in the first half that would have broken a scoreless tie.
"I just tried my hardest to keep everything out that I could," Pool said. "I just made sure the defense was doing what they were supposed to do. I was really busy."
The Dragons (2-4-1, 2-1-1 Bull Run) controlled the ball for much of the first half, launching seven shots on goal through the first 22 minutes, all of which were saved by Pool.
William Monroe outshot the Falcons 20-11 for the game.
Momentum appeared to be shifting towards William Monroe's favor when Central senior Esmeralda Garcia was called for a hand ball inside the penalty box, setting up a penalty kick for the Dragons with two minutes remaining in the half.
William Monroe's Hannah Kengerski lined up to take the kick and sent the ball towards the left side of the net, but Pool guessed the direction and made a diving stop to keep the score knotted at 0.
"I don't know how I saved it, but I'm glad I did," Pool said. "I was just really nervous -- I was just hoping it wasn't going to go in because that could have been really upsetting."
"Carlie was magnificent on that penalty stop," Kwiatkowski said. "She guessed the right way. I would've thought it was going right. With a right-footed kicker, 80 percent of the time it's going right."
The huge stop on the penalty kick gave Central (2-4-1, 0-4-1) some much-needed momentum as the Falcons began to construct more well-balanced attacks on the goal for the remaining two minutes of the half and into the second half.
Both teams continued to come up short in the second half before the Falcons finally broke through with 10 minutes remaining in regulation, when senior Mary Philpott gathered the ball as it floated over several William Monroe defenders and put it through the net to give Central a 1-0 lead.
But the Dragons did not back down, responding just six minutes later when Elysia Hall, who had been consistently pounding shots at the goal all night, finally snuck a ball over the head of Pool to tie the game with just four minutes remaining.
"We were two evenly-matched teams, I thought," said Dragons coach John Burks. "When they scored, I think they let down and thought they were going to win. But we've been in this situation before -- my girls never quit, so I knew we were going to sneak one in.
"I was hoping we could sneak one in overtime, but that keeper [Pool], she saved a lot of shots."
Central had several opportunities for a goal in the first five-minute overtime period, with the final one coming on a 30-yard shot by junior Kathryn Bennett that bounced off the crossbar with 1:25 left in the period.
William Monroe, like the Falcons in the first overtime, had several opportunities to win the game in the second extra frame, but the Dragons could not get by Pool.
"She's just fantastic for us," Kwiatkowski said of Pool. "She just stepped up big time for us today, and saved the game for us."