Third time is charm for Warriors

STEPHENS CITY — For striker Olivia Elliott, the third time proved to be charming Tuesday night. Her goal in the 73rd minute proved to be the game-winner as streaking Sherando topped defending Group 4A state champion Dominion 2-1 in girls soccer at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Warriors junior sent two well-placed shots on goal in the second half — both proved to be just a touch wide left — before she sank her attempt for the victory, the Warriors’ (8-4) fourth in a row.

“I used to get down on myself when I’d miss a goal and say, ‘Dang it,’ before I could get my concentration back. Tonight, I just focused and didn’t let the earlier misses mess me up,” said Elliott.

In all, Elliott tried four shots against the Titans (5-6), with the last one going in. In the second half, her first two attempts came in the 53rd and the 69th minutes, respectively.

The victory seemed to be Sherando’s for the taking, as it spent most of the second half on the Titans’ half of the field. Not only that, but the visitors played loosely in their own box. Several times, keeper Alie Brandt sold out on a Sherando shot only to have a teammate drop back in front of the net and flick a Warriors’ try away.

Elliott, who scored the game-winner for the first time at Sherando, said she thought the Warriors could score because “they kind of lost their marks. I’d try to hide behind a defender and then get open. We realized we could get in there and score if we just stayed with it.”

Sherando — like Dominion a member of Conference 21 — outshot the visitors, 10-8 on goal. Elliott, who seemed to take the first half trying to set up other Warriors, became more aggressive in the second 40 minutes.

It was her fourth goal of the season. The area’s leading scorer, Erin Magalis, picked up her eighth goal of the campaign when she sent a shot just past Dominion’s keeper, Brandt, to tie the match at 1-all in the 38th minute of the first half.

Earlier, 2014 All-State forward Breanna Mitchell gave the Titans a single-goal lead in the 29th minute of the first frame.

“[Mitchell] is one of the best scorers in the state. She’s had about 20 goals to her credit in each year she’s played at Dominion. It’s not easy to check her,” said Sherando coach Rob Kilmer.

For that job, the Sherando coach challenged sophomore defender Megan Triplett to cover the speedy Mitchell, who spent the first half seemingly out-running the Sherando defense. Mitchell ended up taking just two shots on goal.

In fact, while scorers Magalis and Elliott got the offensive credit, Kilmer thought the Sherando defense “was the difference tonight.”

Not only was Triplett on her toes, but Kilmer subbed in freshman defender Lauren Heskett, who replaced regular Alex Snapp. The latter was away on a school trip.

“I thought she really played well for as young as she was,” Kilmer said.

“The key for us was winning balls in the air and we took a bunch of them on offense and defense. Audra Sites was excellent at this,” Kilmer said. “Dreaya Somerville and Kelsey Singhas played well on defense, too. That’s where we won it.”

In Dominion, Sherando was playing a team that lost 11 seniors from its state championship squad, but, as Kilmer said, “They still have girls on that team that played on the state championship team. They know how to win. They’ve been there. They beat Millbrook, 7-1.”

Sherando dropped the Pioneers 4-1 in its last match prior to the showdown with the Titans.

Not only have the Warriors won the four consecutive games, they have been on top in five of their last six outings.

Since losing 8-0 to Loudoun County on the road April 14, the Warriors have scored 16 goals in their last four victories.

“This team has great chemistry,” Kilmer said. “We’ve really put it together in the last week or so.”