SVCA girls get ‘max’ effort in tourney win

STEPHENS CITY – Local private soccer power Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy will play in its first ever Mason-Dixon Christian Conference championship girls’ soccer game Monday by virtue of a semifinal round victory Thursday over Grace Academy of Hagerstown, Maryland.

The 4-1 throttling was the Patriots’ third straight over Grace this season. After outscoring its opponent 14-0 in the first two matchups, SVCA saw the Knights score their first marker of the season in matches between the two teams.

When visiting Bri Steward scored late in the action, her teammates let out a yelp. According to Grace coach Dave Buser, the point meant milkshakes for all the Knights on the way back home.

But that was about the only thing worth celebrating for Grace as SVCA put on a dominating performance both offensively and defensively.

The Max sisters, Hannah and Sarah, provided all four goals for the Patriots, with each girl scoring two. A third sister, Rebekah, plays goalkeeper for the team.

“I’m the oldest and they’re twins, but we’ve all played together since I was little,” said Hannah, a junior on coach Dustin Wheelock’s team. “My goals today were a result of my teammates getting me the ball. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Sarah and Rebekah are freshmen.

Hannah scored early when she outran the Grace defense and had only the keeper to beat, which she did by pounding a high shot at the net. It went in and the Patriots held the early 1-0 advantage.

Hannah Max used the same prescription for her second goal. She took a true through pass from teammate Nikki Taylor and then accosted the goal again with a power kick for the 2-0 advantage.

In the second half it was Sarah Max’s turn.

The Patriots came out playing possession soccer until this Sarah emulated her sister, Hannah, with a break away move. She scored for a 3-0 lead.

To this point in the second half, Grace had tried no shots on goal. An attempt by the visitors was muffled due to an offsides call.

Steward got her chance on a free kick, which she scored to pull Grace within two goals.

But Sarah Max’s header dropped into the net to end the night’s scoring on Patriots’ senior night.

While the Patriots peppered the Knights’ side with 25 shots on goal, the latter only attempted two shots. Late, Taylor Morgan chased down a ball, but her shot went astray.

SVCA junior Anna Schloemer, who marked Morgan, said she was ready for the Grace forward.

“We’ve played them a lot so I kind of know them by now,” said Schloemer, who marked Morgan throughout the game and pushed her off her routes.

“Defense is something we take pride in,” said Schloemer. “We work hard back there.”

Already this season SVCA has won the National Association of Christian Academies Division 2 championship, but rather than participate in the Virginia Association this season, the Patriots struck out in the MDCC.

This will be their first shot at the crown, after dominating the Virginia Association of Christian Athletics for several seasons.

SVCA will play either Shalom Academy or Heritage Academy on Monday in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

The Patriots tied Shalom for the regular season record with 9-1 record. They stand 16-7-3 overall.