By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando and Tuscarora each had three wins last year in girls soccer. This year both teams improved dramatically and found themselves matched up in the Region II first round.
Tuscarora, with a few more seniors, showed that have come a little further on Monday as the Huskies knocked off the Warriors, 4-0.
"I thought we played really well," Tuscarora coach Nicole Brower said. "We came out determined from the get-go to come out hard, and come out strong and not let them in the game. I thought we did a good job with that, scoring three goals in the first half."
The Huskies were one of the top teams in the always powerful Dulles District, and they were undefeated heading into the district tournament. The Huskies had five ties, and a semifinal loss in the tournament to Woodgrove gave them the No. 3 spot from the Dulles District and sent them on the road to Sherando for regionals.
Brower said the Huskies' first loss of the season did add a little extra motivation against the Warriors.
Sherando (8-8-1) has a very young squad with only two seniors and three juniors, and things didn't start off well for the inexperienced group. Tuscarora scored on an own goal just six minutes into the game.
Tuscarora's Lilly Thomas tried to score on a header off a corner kick, and the ball bounced off a Sherando player's head and into the goal.
"It's a shame the first goal was an own goal," Kilmer said. "It's shame to start off really their first shot was an own goal, but the girls battled back. I'm proud of them."
The Huskies (13-1-5) scored again off a corner kick on a Grace Bowen goal with 29:09 left in the first half.
Just two minutes later, Tuscarora's Cassidy McKenzie scored on a direct kick to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Warriors picked it up after that, allowing only one second-half goal. Kilmer said he liked what he saw from his team after the slow start.
"They're growing up," Kilmer said. "I think the girls are growing up in front of us. Certainly it got better as the game went along, got used to the speed of the game."
Brower said a big key for her team has been seeing the confidence level rise throughout the season.
"I think the talent was there. It was just kind of getting them to see that the talent was there," Brower said. "All along this season it's been little wins, little wins, and now they've opened their minds up to, 'We can win regionals.'"
Tuscarora will now play at Kettle Run on Tuesday, and a win there could get them a rematch with Woodgrove.
The season came to an end for the Warriors, but the players were happy with the season and for the future of the program.
"It's the first time I've been in regions, and it's the first time the seniors have been in regions," Sherando junior Mandy Fogarty said. "It's definitely a good feeling, and I definitely want to be here again next year.
"We're only going to get better and older and more experienced."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org