By Jeff Nations
QUICKSBURG -- Stonewall Jackson girls soccer coach Chris Livesay did his best to combat a power outage on Friday.
Playing earlier than normal on a warm afternoon in the Shenandoah District tournament quarterfinals, the Generals just couldn't seem to muster much pace on their numerous shots against East Rockingham.
"The heat just killed us," Livesay said. "They did such good work at trying to keep the ball in, keep the pressure on and when it came time to take the shot they were just like, 'OK, I'm done.' We just didn't have that power there at the end."
Like most outages, though, the power flickered on and off and when it was on the third-seeded Generals picked up enough scoring to secure a 4-0 victory and move on to Tuesday's semifinals against No. 2 seed Wilson Memorial. A Region B tournament berth will be on the line for that game.
First, though, the Generals had to take care of the sixth-seeded Eagles.
Taylor Koontz got Stonewall Jackson (12-4) off to a solid start with an early goal, gathering in a cross before darting past a defender and unleashing off a shot that buzzed past East Rockingham goalkeeper Tiarra Smith and tucked inside the far post.
The Generals kept the pressure on, right up until it came time for that all-important shot on goal.
"I don't really know why that's been happening -- we've got to work on that," Koontz said. "Hopefully we'll get a little fire in us."
Stonewall finally broke through again with 3:15 left in the first half when Isabelle Sharman gathered in a cross to the outside edge of the penalty area and snapped off a shot that caught the near post. Smith dashed forward to gather up the ball, but it spun out of her hands, bounced off her knee and landed in the back of the net.
"I didn't think it would go in, and then she kind of fumbled it a little bit," Sharman said of her second goal this season. "It was a good shot, but I'm glad that I had the cross because without it I wouldn't have gotten the goal."
East Rockingham (4-14-1) didn't have a shot on goal in the first half, but stayed within striking distance thanks to the Generals' mostly weak finishing shots.
"We were a little bit nervous because we came in, not being overconfident but wanting to win," Sharman said. "We weren't playing at our absolute best in the beginning of the game, and when we realized we weren't winning by as much as we wanted to we got a little nervous. We kind of pulled it together, had a good pep talk at halftime."
The Eagles nearly made it even more nerve-wracking for Stonewall in the opening minute of the second half, when East Rockingham's Sofia Perez got there first to a through ball for a one-on-one opportunity. That woke up Generals goalkeeper Rhea Jett, who'd spent the first half watching the action from afar. Jett rushed forward and body-blocked Perez's hard shot on goal. Perez tracked down the rebound for a second-chance shot, but it sailed wide.
Koontz struck again for her second goal -- 19th this season -- on a through-ball pass from teammate Emily Jordan. Koontz collected the ball at the top of the penalty box before snapping off a shot that sailed over Smith's right shoulder and into the net.
Just more than two minutes later, the Generals got even more breathing room. Allison Singleton sent a cross into Koontz in the box, but Smith rejected her shot. It didn't matter, as Maira Romero Cardoso was there to knock in the rebound for the final goal.
East Rockingham did get some pressure on in the second half, attempting seven shots and forcing Jett to make four saves as the Generals starting mixing and matching the lineup. It worked well enough to preserve the shutout.
"Our defense is our strong point," Koontz said. "Nothing gets by them. They really are like a brick wall."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>