STUARTS DRAFT – One trophy down and two more to go.
That’s the mindset of Stonewall Jackson’s girls soccer team after winning a thrilling Shenandoah District tournament title on Friday. The third-seeded Generals defeated top-seeded and previously undefeated Stuarts Draft, 1-0 (4-3 on penalty kicks).
The Generals (15-4) had an unlikely hero as sophomore Morgan Gibson, a center defender, stepped into goal for the penalty kicks and also scored the game-winning penalty kick.
“It was really stressful,” Gibson said. “I was warming up and my teammates gave me lots of encouragement, really supported me no matter what happens. So I knew everything would be OK.”
Gibson said that she played goalkeeper when she was younger but hadn’t done it in a game in a number of years.
Stonewall Jackson coach Ginny Dellinger said that it was a tough decision to put Gibson in instead of starting sophomore goalkeeper Lilly Proctor, who is in her first year as goalkeeper.
“I second-guessed myself a little because Lilly (Proctor) has been really solid at keeper for us all season,” Dellinger said. “But she’s not as good on the ground as Morgan is. Morgan is really good on the ground and obviously, it worked out well for us.”
The game was scoreless after 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime periods, sending it to penalty kicks. Each team gets five penalty kicks to try to decide the contest.
Stonewall Jackson sophomore Eli Dellinger and senior Casey Gibson each made their penalty kicks past Stuarts Draft senior goalkeeper Emma Gallaugher. Stuarts Draft freshman Allison Quick and Gallaugher each made their penalty kicks and it was tied 2-2.
Casey Gibson said she just tried to tune out all the noise of the fans and focus on making the shot like she’s done at practice.
“I hit my right netting like I do every time,” Casey Gibson said. “I’m good at making that shot but to do it in game time was a crazy experience. And especially to make that during the game time when it was a high intensity was even better for me.”
Stonewall Jackson junior Chloe Monroe’s shot hit the top crossbar and bounced away, while Stuarts Draft’s Madalyn Renner scored past Morgan Gibson to give the Cougars a 3-2 edge.
The Generals’ Paola Arrocena-Jacuinde, another sophomore, sent a shot that went off Gallaugher’s fingertips and in the goal to even things at 3-3. Gibson then saved a shot by Stuarts Draft’s Jadelyn Talley.
“I was going to actually go the other way, but I just kind of waited until she kicked the ball,” Morgan Gibson said. “I just saw it was coming right near me, so I just made sure I had my whole body behind the ball so it didn’t slip in behind me.”
Morgan Gibson then stepped up and took a penalty kick and knocked it in on the left side of the goal to give the Generals a 4-3 edge with one shot left for Stuarts Draft.
“I was really stressed,” Morgan Gibson said. “I was just trying to clear my mind of all things and just take the best, most precise shot that I could. Once I made it I was really glad. I kind of forgot that there was another save that I had to make.”
Stuarts Draft senior Hannah Chatterton took the final shot and it went over the top of the goal as the Generals ran onto the field to celebrate.
“As soon as I saw (Chatterton) walk up I was trying to read where she was going and I really couldn’t tell,” Morgan Gibson said. “So I was just hoping for the best. Then after she shot it over the goal I was just really happy and I just ran to my team.”
The Generals have developed a strong rivalry with Stuarts Draft the last two seasons. Stonewall Jackson finished second in the district last year to the Cougars, including a tie in the regular season. The Generals lost in the last year’s Shenandoah District tournament final to the Cougars, 1-0, on a goal in the last 30 seconds of regulation.
This season the Generals lost 2-0, and 2-1 to Stuarts Draft in the regular season. In their second meeting this season, they were the first team to score a goal on the Cougars all season.
“This win means the world to me,” Stonewall Jackson senior Virginia Biller said. “I know it means the absolute world to us. We told ourselves from the beginning no one expects us to be out here and win districts and that was our goal. We beat Wilson (Memorial in the semifinals) and we took that momentum and we kept going. And we were not going to give up. Last year we lost on this field in our district final and today we won. That’s all we’ve wanted this past year.”
The Cougars (18-1) had 18 shots on goal while Stonewall Jackson had 13. Gallaugher had eight saves, while Proctor had 12.
Biller said she was proud of the whole team, especially Morgan Gibson.
“I’m just so incredibly proud of every single one that made it, every single one that had the nerve to take a shot,” Biller said. “And I’m so proud of Morgan for stepping up and playing goalie today and stepping up and taking a shot as well. In my book, this is her win right here. She won this game for us and I’m so grateful.”
It was a special day for Stonewall Jackson’s three seniors, Biller, Casey Gibson and Anahi Ramirez, who graduated on Friday night.
“I’ve got a lot of people to go home and tell about this game,” Biller said. “I’m going to be able to walk across the stage with a big smile on my face.”
“It makes it so much better to be able to walk across that stage and be district champion,” Casey Gibson said. “Something that I’ve always wanted to do. But to do it tonight, especially. It’s going to make it a lot more fun to walk across that stage a champion than being a little bit upset from the game.”
The Generals now turn their sights on next week’s Region 1B tournament. Friday was the last Class 2 opponent the Class 1 Generals will face. Stonewall Jackson is the top seed in the Region 1B tournament, which has only four teams. They will host Altavista at 6 p.m. Tuesday for a Class 1 state berth.
Ginny Dellinger said that the win over Stuarts Draft, which has been in the Class 2 state tournament the last two years, is great preparation for regionals and says a lot about her team.
“To prove that even a little school like us can work hard, show heart and hang in there with these guys – it’s amazing,” Ginny Dellinger said. “It’s really just a testament to the character of these girls. They work so hard and they’ve worked hard since they were 10 years old and less. More than anything I’m just so proud of them They did an amazing job today.”