Patriots get team effort in big win

By Brad Fauber

STEPHENS CITY — Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy girls soccer coach Dustin Wheelock strolled across the soggy turf toward his team’s bench prior to the start of Tuesday’s match against visiting Highland View (Md.) Academy and, squinting against the light rainfall that was steadily coming down, grinned and said, “This is going to be fun.”

Wheelock was referring to playing on the mud-filled pitch that both teams were about to spend the next 80 minutes churning into an even bigger mess, but by the end of Tuesday’s match, SVCA was having fun for a different reason.

Eleven different players scored goals for the Patriots — a first for SVCA under Wheelock — as they rolled to a 12-0 win over Highland View. It was just the type of game SVCA was hoping to have as the Patriots prepare for next week’s National Association of Christian Athletes tournament.

“We just kind of used this game to not get into bad habits, be able to win the ball in the air, moving off the ball and just focusing on stuff like that to get ready for nationals and states,” said Patriots junior forward Hannah McGann, who finished with two goals and two assists on Tuesday.

“I was glad everyone got to score. That was cool, how many people scored,” she added.

SVCA (11-4-2) dominated the Tartans in every facet of the game. The Patriots outshot Highland View 34-4 and maintained uncompromising possession of the ball for the entirety of the match on their way to their fourth straight victory.

“We’ve really, this second half of the season, really picked up the tempo,” Wheelock said. “At the beginning of the year we knew we were bringing in a lot of athletic girls, but a lot of girls that hadn’t played soccer. We kind of gauged that midway through April, we felt like if we were doing our thing as coaches that we could catch up to speed. The girls have really bought into everything and are really developing really well.”

Senior midfielder Megan Norton got the rout going in the second minute of the game, as she fielded a pass from McGann and dribbled into the penalty box before converting a 10-yard shot to give SVCA a 1-0 lead.

“Hannah just played a really nice pass and I just went through and slotted it back pretty much. It was a pretty simple goal, really,” Norton said.

It took SVCA over 20 minutes to score again, but then the goals came pouring in for the Patriots.

Freshman Anna Schloemer scored her first goal of the season off a beautiful cross by Norton to the left post in the 24th minute, and freshman Alex Yarnall scored two minutes later to give SVCA a 3-0 lead.

McGann then scored back-to-back goals — the second off an assist by senior Katie Wykoff — to push the lead to five before sophomore Sam Yarnall scored on a breakaway with five minutes left in the first half to give SVCA a 6-0 lead going into halftime.

“Just being able to move the ball, looking for the through balls and finding the open person — I think they did really well at just finding open spots on the field and being able to just stick it in the net,” McGann said of the Patriots’ scoring outburst.

Sophomore defender Grace Snyder planted the ball into the back of the net seven minutes into the second half, and Wykoff tallied a goal off an assist from sophomore Abi Beaty with 28 minutes to play. Beaty then scored a goal of her own two minutes later on a slow rolling shot that snuck across the goal line to give the Patriots a 9-0 lead.

“We just came in with a lot of intensity and we didn’t want to play down,” Wykoff said. “We play a lot of teams like this in our conference and we just wanted to keep up the intensity, possess the ball and really pass it around a lot — not just focus on scoring, but passing it around to the rest of our team.”

SVCA’s bench players saw plenty of action in the second half, and Kayla Phaneuf — the Patriots’ regular goalkeeper — Alexandra Garcia and Annie Runion all scored their first goals of the season over the final 16 minutes.

SVCA is scheduled to play one more regular season game on Thursday at home against Middleburg Academy before participating in the NACA tournament on May 6-10.

“We have one more tune-up game and then we’ll go to NACA. That will be really big for the girls. This is the first year that they’re offering it for girls soccer, so they should be excited,” Wheelock said.

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD