Millbrook girls score late goal, rally past Skyline

FRONT ROYAL – Skyline High School’s girls soccer team hasn’t held many second-half leads over fellow Northwestern District teams in its 10 seasons as a program. The Hawks let one slip away against Millbrook on Monday night.

The visiting Pioneers rallied from a one-goal deficit with a pair of goals over the final 11 minutes in their district matchup with Skyline, seizing a late lead on freshman Abigail Forrest’s goal in stoppage time to top the Hawks, 3-2.

“These girls have worked hard and come a long way, and they deserve to be up 2-1 against the Winchester teams,” said Skyline head coach Kristy Beaune, whose team hasn’t won a Northwestern District match since 2012 and is 0-43-1 in such games in that span. “We’re at that level now where we’re no longer the easy beat. We are now the team that you’re gonna have to fight against. Millbrook came out and fought and we came out and fought hard, too. I feel like one mental error at the end of the game is what cost us, and we didn’t have enough time to recover.”

Skyline (0-1-1) looked as if it would halt is misfortune in district play when freshmen Audrey Dueweke and Laura Brown struck for two goals in a two-minute span midway through the second half to take a 2-1 lead.

Millbrook, however, found an answer. Pioneers junior Rachel Keeler first knotted the match at 2-all with a breakaway goal with 10:35 to play, setting the stage for Forrest’s goal in the closing minutes.

Kelsey Riley set up the game-winning score when she chipped a pass over Skyline’s back line. Forrest gathered the ball and fired a shot from the top of the box and over the arms of Skyline goalkeeper Jordan Heberle.

“When we actually went down 2-1 I saw a little sense of urgency in them, and I wish we’d played the entire game that way,” said Pioneers head coach Matt Cottino, whose team played the entire second half without forward Evelyn Esslinger after the junior suffered a head injury on a collision late in the first half. “They had a little fire there at the end. I think once they got down they realized they didn’t like that feeling, and it got a little fire under them in the sense that it pushed them a little bit.”

Skyline entered halftime trailing 1-0 after Millbrook’s Carrington Nordin bent a 20-yard direct kick over the head of Heberle and into the net in the 20th minute. After mustering only four shots in the first 40 minutes – two of which came on free kicks of over 30 yards – the Hawks found some offense in the second half.

Dueweke put the Hawks on the board with a goal with 18:35 to play, her shot attempt coming after a Millbrook defender tried to clear the ball out of the 18-yard box and instead sent it directly to the foot of the Skyline freshman.

Brown put the Hawks up 2-1 just over two minutes later when she scored a goal on a rebound of Jenna Stanley’s shot that was deflected by Millbrook keeper Jordan Baer.

Beaune said Skyline had six players out with the flu last week, and Monday’s contest was the first time since then that the Hawks have been 100 percent.

“I think it took us a second to get back in the swing of things, so I think that’s kind of what the first half was, was kind of us regrouping, getting our focus back together, getting our movement back on,” Beaune said. “I think second half we came out, ‘All right, we’re ready to do this thing.'”

Millbrook outshot Skyline 11-4 in the first half – Cottino still said he felt the Hawks out-possessed the Pioneers and had Millbrook’s defense “on our heels” in the first 40 minutes – but the teams each fired five shots in the second half. Heberle had eight saves for the Hawks, while Baer ended the night with four saves.

“Honestly I would say we played a great game,” Beaune said. “I mean we had one mental error that cost us the game, which ended up being the goal that they needed to win. But other than that I’d say that we played a very good game.”