SVCA wins NACA girls soccer Division I title
STEPHENS CITY — Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy’s girls soccer team is having another stellar season, and last week the Patriots added a national title to their list of accomplishments.
The Patriots won the National Association of Christian Athletes Division I girls soccer title in Dayton, Tennessee. It was SVCA’s third NACA title in four years and second in a row. Last year SVCA won the Division II title, but this year moved up to the highest level and took home the top prize.
“It’s a huge victory for us,” SVCA coach Dustin Wheelock said Wednesday in a phone interview. “That tournament has been what we’ve really been working hard for all year. When you go there you see quality teams. So our girls have really for the last several weeks have just been playing their top-notch soccer. So we performed really well at that tournament. It means a lot to the program, playing schools that are large schools, large programs. So that means a lot.”
The Patriots won four games in three days to take home the title. They started off with a 4-0 victory over the Beach Breakers Homeschool, from Virginia Beach on May 10. Hannah Max had a hat trick in the victory, while her sister, Sarah, had the other goal.
On May 11, the Patriots beat Creekside Christian Academy, from McDonough, Georgia, 5-0. Hannah Max had two goals and an assist, while Rebekah Max and Sarah Max and Leah Goben each had one goal.
Later in the day the Patriots had their toughest match of the tournament. They knocked off Providence Athletic Club, from Lexington, South Carolina, 2-1, to advance to the championship game.
Sarah Max scored both goals for the Patriots, the last one coming with just 30 seconds left in the contest. The Patriots led 1-0, before a handball late in the game led to a penalty kick for Providence Athletic Club which it converted to tie the game.
With 30 seconds left, Rebekah Max took a free kick, which Sarah Max headed in for the game-winner.
“That was a pretty exciting win,” Wheelock said. “That was a really intense game. It was well deserved. We limited them to like four shots, but they were a really strong team. But we just played really well. And then we gave up that penalty and they gained some momentum there, but we were able to get a well placed ball and head it in.”
Wheelock said that win really helped his team play at a high level in the championship game on May 12 against Dayspring Christian Academy, from Blacksburg.
The Patriots built a 5-1 lead and held on for a 5-3 victory.
“They were a strong team too, but our girls were fired up from the night before,” Wheelock said. “In the first 20 minuets we scored three goals.”
Sarah Max and Goben each scored two goals in the win, and Isabel Lauderback scored one for the Patriots.
Sarah Max was named the tournament’s Offensive Most Valuable Player. Hannah Max, Clare Lauderback and Isabel Lauderback were also named to the All-Tournament team.
SVCA is 23-2-1 overall on the season. The Patriots have been led all season by Sarah (31 goals, 13 assists), Hannah (29 goals, 17 assists) and Rebekah Max (16 goals, eight assists) but Wheelock said all of his players have stepped up and played a key role in the team’s success.
“Everybody has really just stepped in and been a complete team for us,” Wheelock said. “In fact one of the teams that we played, we had played last year and their coach said we came into the game being ready to guard the Max sisters and just really focus on them. And they weren’t able to do that because he said you just have way more weapons than you had last year.
“The Maxs have really shined this year, because teams can’t focus on them. Isabel (Lauderback) has been a scoring and offensive threat all season and Leah Goben has been as well.”
The Patriots are playing in the Mason Dixie Christian Conference tournament this week to conclude their season. They play in the final today in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Wheelock said he couldn’t be prouder of the way his team has played this season.
“What’s been really neat, and what I think has separated this team from other years, is that truly every game they have just gotten better and better,” Wheelock said. “Their style of play — they play beautiful soccer. They work hard for one another. What I think we’re really pleased with soccer-wise is just the movement without the ball, the understanding of how to help one another by moving off the ball and the character of the team.
“They’re not a team that gets into arguments. They’re well behaved. The character of this team has been just a piece of cake to coach them.”