By Brad Fauber
WINCHESTER -- The 2013 girls soccer season was not kind to Skyline, which managed just a lone win in 16 matches prior to Thursday's Northwestern District tournament play-in game against James Wood at Millbrook High School.
The Hawks were shut out in 12 of their 13 regular-season losses, and Skyline experienced more than its fair share of lopsided defeats. Things were only slightly better for the Hawks on Thursday, as they fell to the Colonels, 7-2, in what was Skyline's final match of the year.
But if you thought that Skyline's struggles this year had caused opponents to lose all respect for the Hawks, you had better think again. Shortly after Thursday's match ended, James Wood coach Jim Carden went to Skyline's bench and spoke briefly with coach John Moore and the rest of the Hawks' team, and Carden even exchanged hugs with a few Skyline players.
"I told them I'm really amazed at them, and their coach. I think their coach should be coach of the year in this district. No one that I know of could get kids up for every game when they get shut out every game. That's unbelievable," Carden said. "I'm in awe of that team."
Skyline's willingness to continue to compete on a game-by-game basis has been a point of pride for Moore and the Hawks this season, and Moore was not disappointed by his team's effort on Thursday.
Even when the fourth-seeded Colonels took a 1-0 lead on a goal by freshman Adrienne Thomas just seven minutes into the match, the Hawks did not back down. In fact, Skyline answered with its first goal in seven games when freshman Katelyn Bolt connected on a shot from about 15 yards out to tie the match at 1-1 in the 15th minute.
"They've played real hard every game we've come out," Moore said. "It wasn't one of their better games, but it was good enough. It was good enough for me. We told them that the first thing we were going to do tonight was have some fun."
James Wood (6-9-2) quickly broke the tie with three goals in a six-minute span to extend the lead to three goals, beginning with sophomore Alex Stanford's goal in the 20th minute. Stanford -- who had a hat trick for James Wood -- scored again four minutes later, and freshman Emily Denton scored on free kick from 20 yards out in the 26th minute to give the Colonels a 4-1 lead.
Freshman Makayla Gloyd added a goal on an assist by Meghan Hammond with four minutes remaining in the first half to give the Colonels a 5-1 halftime lead.
The scoring slowed down for James Wood in the second half, but the Colonels did manage a goal apiece from Stanford and Hammond in the final 40 minutes.
Skyline (1-14-2) scored its second goal of the match when senior Laura Moran converted on a free kick from about 22 yards away with 15:50 left in the match.
James Wood held a 33-3 advantage in shots for the match, and Skyline senior goalkeeper Kendall Thomas recorded 12 saves.
With the win, the Colonels advance to the tournament semifinals, where they will play regular-season champion Millbrook at 1 p.m. That game will be followed by the other semifinal match between No. 2 Sherando and No. 3 Handley.
Thursday's loss was the end of the line for the Hawks, but Moore said he is encouraged by what the future holds for Skyline.
"There were a whole lot more positives this year than there were last year, believe it or not," Moore said. "The younger ones, the freshmen, are stepping up and did what I was hoping they were going to do. Next year should be better."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org