Judges knock off Warriors in Conference 21 West semis

Handley's Helen Skaarland, left, and Sherando's Lauren Heskett, right, go up for kick during soccer action Friday afternoon in Winchester. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER — For the third time this season, Sherando fell a little short to rival Handley on Friday. This time it was with the season on the line.

The Judges were able to take control in the second half of a close game and pull out a 4-1 girls soccer victory over the Warriors in the Conference 21 West semifinals. The win clinches a Region 4A West berth for the Judges.

“We came in very positive,” Handley junior Julia Ricci said. “We were all very pumped. We wanted to make it to regionals, and we were willing to do it any way we could. When we came out we just knew we had to play strong. That’s what helped us lead up to all four of our goals.”

Handley’s first goal came on a penalty kick by Kara Johnson with six minutes left. Sherando’s goalkeeper Kara Hendron was called for the penalty in the box on a collision with Handley freshman Emma Ricci, so Hendron was replaced in goal by Ciara Gaither on the penalty kick.

“We were fortunate we got that PK early on to give us that lead, which came from an exceptional effort from Emma,” Handley coach John Lynch said. “She’s a great player. She works hard, and she creates those opportunities for us.”

Handley's Myah Bales, left, and Sherando's Catherine Price, right, go up to head the ball during soccer action Friday evening in Winchester. Rich Cooley/Daily

The score stayed the same until there was 13 minutes left in the game. Handley freshman Kendall Felix scored off a pass from Hailey Burke for a 2-0 lead.

The Warriors had a chance to cut the lead to one with 11 minutes left. Sherando’s Taylor Fogarty missed wide left on a penalty kick.

“They finished their chances and we didn’t,” Sherando coach Rob Kilmer said.

Less than a minute later, Julia Ricci scored on an assist from Felix to give the Judges a 3-0 edge.

“It was a lot of commotion,” Julia Ricci said of the play. “We were all going up, it bobbled around in the middle and then Kendall Felix dropped it back to me. And then I just took the shot with my left foot and I got it in lower 90, because I just felt like at that moment it was crucial. So I just had to take it without even thinking.”

Sherando's Megan Triplett takes the ball out wide as Handley's Deyly Orellana pursues during soccer action Friday evening in Winchester. Rich Cooley/Daily

Sherando senior Catherine Price scored a goal with seven minutes left to cut the lead to 3-1.

However, the Judges responded with a goal by Emma Ricci on an assist from Natalie DaArment in the final minute.

“It’s just smart play from everybody,” Lynch said. “We got everybody in. Everybody got some playing time, some opportunity. And they all created something in their own right.”

The Warriors season comes to an end with a 10-7-1 record. Sherando had a young squad with only four seniors.

“I’m pleased with a 10-win season,” Kilmer said. “It’s a young group. We build from this and we go on. It was a good experience, and we had some good wins this year.”

Sherando's Ali Baltimore works the ball inside as Handley's Abigail Keith defends during soccer action Friday evening in Winchester. Rich Cooley/Daily

Handley (10-6-1) will play at top-seeded Woodgrove in the Conference 21 West tournament final on Monday.

Julia Ricci said that she feels good about what the team can do the rest of the season.

“I feel like our team works really well together,” she said. “And once we put our minds to do it, we could make it really far this season.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com

Handley's Natalie DeArment gets a kick at the ball around Sherando's Olivia Engle during soccer action Friday evening in Winchester. Rich Cooley/Daily

Sherando's Sydney Hunter fights to keep possession of the ball as Handley's Emma Ricci works for position during Friday evening soccer in Winchester. Rich Cooley/Daily