By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WINCHESTER -- Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy and Handley met for the first time ever in girls soccer on Thursday. If the first meeting is any indication, it could be the beginning of a good rivalry.
The Judges scored late in the game to pull out a 2-1 girls soccer non-district victory over the Patriots.
"We played well enough, I suppose," SVCA senior Megan Norton said. "We could have played better. We could have passed better. I think we could have won the game, if we had communicated better. Unfortunately, we didn't."
The Patriots looked to be in good shape late in the game, as they were starting to gain some momentum. SVCA junior Hannah McGann had two shots in a minute span, only the eighth and ninth shots of the game for the Patriots.
Four minutes later, with approximately nine minutes left in the game McGann collided with a teammate and suffered a head injury and had to leave the game. SVCA coach Dustin Wheelock said he thought McGann was going to be OK.
However, the Judges scored the game-winning goal less than a minute later. Handley's Madai Guzman took a pass from Katherine Nerangis and scored from about 20 yards out.
SVCA defender Grace Snyder said seeing McGann go down affected the team.
"Hannah was getting great looks at the goal, but at the same time I think our defense was shaken," Snyder said. "And I think we could have defended that last goal better if we weren't shaken."
"We stopped talking. Our intensity went down," Wheelock said of his team's reaction to McGann's injury. "I don't think that was a conscious thing. The intensity instantly dropped. It went from us to finally getting some momentum pressing up here to losing one of our top attackers. I think mentally we didn't handle it."
SVCA (5-2-1) took the lead in the first half. Snyder scored on a free kick with 30:52 left in the opening half. Handley goalie Ellen Volinsky came out to grab the ball on the free kick, and it bounced over her head into the net.
"I was happy to get that one. Last year I took a lot of the free kicks, but this season I've been struggling to get my kick in the air," Snyder said. "This past year I've been trying to focus more on my angles than my actual kicks. I've been struggling kick to where I want it to be.
"She seemed like a very good goalie so I was expecting her to get it, but I was happy to see [it go in]."
The Judges (2-0) tied the game at 1-1 on a goal by Krystal Rosario with 29 minutes left in the game.
The game was a defensive struggle throughout. The Judges outshot the Patriots, 17-9.
"It was a good game. A good battle between two strong, physical teams," Handley coach John Lynch said. "They won the first half and we won the second half. Fortunately for us, we had more goals in the second half."
It was the second loss of the year for the Patriots, and both have come to public school teams. SVCA lost earlier this season to James Wood, 3-0.
Despite the loss, the Patriots showed they can play with some of the better teams in the area.
"Coming from a smaller program I think that people don't really expect us to be able to compete, but it feels good when we come in and play well," Snyder said. "Especially since we suffered a bigger loss at James Wood than we would have liked a couple weeks ago. I was happy to see that we recovered from that and that we weren't scared of public schools or anything like that."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd