QUICKSBURG – The momentum first carried Stonewall Jackson’s girls soccer team to a Shenandoah District tournament championship. It then lifted the Generals to their first state tournament qualification in program history. On Thursday night, that momentum gave the team its first-ever regional tournament title.
Stonewall’s latest playoff milestone came in the form of a 12-1 trouncing of visiting Rappahannock County in the Region 1B championship on Thursday night, which netted the Generals their first regional trophy and a home game in Tuesday’s Class 1 state quarterfinal against Northumberland, the Region 1A runner-up.
Thursday’s win was the seventh straight for the Generals, who knocked off three Class 2 schools en route to the Shenandoah District title and scored 27 goals in two regional tournament games against Altavista and Rappahannock County, two programs who have combined for two wins this season.
“We are coming together so much,” Stonewall head coach Ginny Dellinger said after her team’s win over Rappahannock. “We had a growing season. We were good at the start. We didn’t know what we would turn into. But we had some really good drills that have really brought their touches in the air into an amazing space. They’re just really clicking right now, it’s all coming together at the right time. They want to send a message that we belong here. We play double-A teams all the time, and we are hanging tight with double-A, and they just want to prove that even though we’re single-A, we’re gonna put up numbers and we belong here.”
After unloading on winless Altavista in a 15-0 regional semifinal win on Tuesday, the Generals (17-4) picked up right where they left off against Rappahannock (2-14-1), another program that spends most of the season playing Class 2 schools.
Stonewall senior Casey Gibson put her team ahead for good just 88 seconds into the match with the first of her two goals in the match. Her second came 11 minutes later, and a first-half hat trick from sophomore Kylene Franklin helped send the Generals into halftime with a 6-1 lead.
Stonewall finished the game with 32 shot attempts – to Rappahannock County’s six – and scored six goals in each half.
“We are the type of team that when we start winning, we gain so much confidence, especially when we’re winning by a lot,” Gibson said. “Our last couple games leading into the district tournament, we started getting bigger gaps with our leads, started putting in more effort. We came into every practice and took practice very seriously. … As we began to pick up steam, we gained more confidence, we took more shots on goal, we started scoring more, and that gave us a huge advantage both in the district tournaments and in these games (in the regional tournament).”
Franklin scored her first goal 42 seconds after Gibson’s second, and Franklin’s third and fourth goals of the night countered the Panthers’ lone score that cut the Generals’ lead to 3-1 in the 14th minute.
Franklin finished with four goals to lead Stonewall’s attack, running her season total to 30 in 21 matches.
“Once we started on that district tournament (run) our team just bonded the most I’ve ever seen,” said Franklin, who was one of seven Generals to score a goal against Rappahannock County. “We had the most energy I’ve ever seen and we were just pushing our way through the whole thing, not giving up, every second meant (something).
“It means so much,” Franklin added of winning the program’s first regional championship, “especially considering we had some people not really having faith in our team, and us just coming here and showing them that we can do it means so much to us.”
Freshman Madison Wright capped the first half’s scoring when she banked in a shot off the left post.
In the second half, Katie Jordan, a sophomore, bookended a quartet of Stonewall goals in a span of six minutes with a pair of scores, sandwiching goals by Franklin and Eli Dellinger. Sophomore Morgan Gibson made it 11-1 with a goal with 19 minutes to play, and junior Chloe Monroe put the finishing touches on the win with a score with 11 minutes left.
“We’re working beautifully right now, and I just hope it carries into next week,” said Ginny Dellinger, who noted that there’s a concern the Generals fall into a sense of complacency while piling up lopsided wins but added that her team has played with the right amount of energy since dropping the season opener against Wilson Memorial. “Obviously, it’s gonna get more difficult as we go on. We’re not gonna be able to put these numbers up the whole time. But they really just want to show everybody that not only should we win it, but we should win it decisively. And let’s just hope we can do that.”
Ginny Dellinger said she made sure the team understood the value of playing a home game in next week’s state quarterfinals, which required a win in the regional championship. She added that the Generals were playing for a little more than that on Thursday night, as well.
“I’m just really proud of them and I hope that we can make the community proud, make them proud and fulfill all their dreams because they’ve been wanting this,” Ginny Dellinger said. “There were kids last year who were fantastic. We were a fantastic team last year and we didn’t have this opportunity. Some of those girls really deserved to be here and they can’t be because they graduated. Our captains talked to the team about how we have to do well and win it for the girls that never had a chance but deserved it. I think today, a lot of it was they were playing for their teammates from last year who never had that chance.”