By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WINCHESTER -- Sherando coach Rob Kilmer kept telling his team to get the ball to junior forward Tori Dean on Tuesday at the Handley Bowl. The Warriors listened and Dean came through when her team needed it the most.
Dean scored the game's only goal to give Sherando a 1-0 Northwestern District girls soccer win over Handley on Tuesday.
"If there was a better player on the field tonight, I don't know who it was," Kilmer said of Dean. "I kept saying keep feeding Tori good things are going to happen. Keep feeding her. Keep feeding the monster, basically. We did and she finally made it pay off. It was a great goal."
With around eight minutes left in the game, Dean took a pass from Audra Sites and battled with three defenders for the ball from about 20 yards from the goal. She gained control of the ball, and collided with a Handley player but drilled a shot as she was falling past Handley goalkeeper Ellen Volinsky for the score.
"I cut the ball and then there was like three defenders on me, and I took a touch with my right and finished in the left corner as hard as I could. I just kept fighting for it.," Dean said. "A girl ran into me in my left shoulder and I fell down. As soon as she hit me I just kicked it, and it just went in."
Dean said she felt like it was going to go in as she kicked it.
"I saw the goalie, she was on the right of the goal, so I was aiming for the left," Dean said. "I was pretty confident that it was going to go in."
The Warriors had plenty of scoring opportunities in the first half, but couldn't convert.
"We had a lot of opportunities in the first half -- we just weren't finishing," Dean said. "We had control of the game the entire first half and we had so many chances, but we just need to work on finishing."
The Judges (6-4-4) came out stronger in the second half and created some opportunities of their own.
"I think with senior night and all the festivities, it can distract you a little bit," Handley coach John Lynch said. "I think we recomposed ourselves at halftime. I think everyone was positive and ready to go."
Lynch said he was very happy with how his team played despite the loss.
"To be honest, just one moment where we didn't pick up the mark, and they found the right opportunity and they put it in," Lynch said. "That's what soccer is. It's close games like that, that are quality play."
Handley outshot Sherando, 9-7. The Warriors played very strong defensively, and Kilmer said he was especially happy with the play of Katelyn Tuck, who was filling in for Madison Leckie, who is out with a concussion.
It was also Kilmer's first win at the Handley Bowl since they installed a turf field.
"It's hard to play here because of the daylight," Kilmer said. "It's hard to win here. I thought it was a great performance by our girls. They worked hard the entire time."
Handley will be the No. 4 seed in the Conference 23 tournament, beginning Monday and will host Amherst at 2 p.m.
Lynch said he feels his team is ready for the postseason.
"Obviously, you want to go in with a win, you want to go in with momentum, but I think right now this should fire us up," Lynch said. "[The girls should be like] 'you know what we need to come with our A game all the time and really come out strong.' I know my girls can do that. I think it's going to be a quality game on Monday."
Sherando (7-3-3) clinched second in the Northwestern District with the win over Handley. The Warriors will play either Dominion or Heritage on Friday in the Conference 21 tournament. Kilmer said he wasn't sure if they would be home or away. Sherando only has one loss since April 1, and is 6-1-3 during that stretch.
"You get to that point now where every team -- it's a wounded dog in a corner," Kilmer said. "You're going to see everyone's best, and you go over that mountain you're seeing the best in the state. It will be a good test for us.
"We're doing good right now. I'm very pleased with where we are right now."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd