GLEN ALLEN — Minutes after noon Friday, Albemarle senior Megan Schantz broke away from her teammates who were lined up at the halfway line and began the long, cold walk toward the goal. She had spent the past two hours running through the rain, running to push her team to the Class 5 state championship game, and now she could make it happen with one kick.
Schantz lined up in front of the ball, her cleats squishing in the soggy turf underneath. Glen Allen High School was buzzing, but Schantz said afterwards her mind was blank as she smacked the ball past the outstretched arm of the Douglas Freeman goalkeeper and into the right corner of the net.
The defender’s goal gave Albemarle a 5-3 penalty kicks victory and clinched the team’s second state title game berth in three seasons.
“It was definitely a hard fought battle,” Schantz said, wringing some water from her shorts. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
It was a familiar feeling for the senior, who scored the game winner in Albemarle’s 3-2 win over Briar Woods earlier in the week in the state quarterfinals.
Albemarle coach Amy Sherrill called Schantz the “backbone” of the team.
“She’s our vocal leader. She’s the heart of our defense, we go as she goes,” Sherrill said. “She’s given us everything she has and we’re so excited to give her the opportunity for a second state title.”
The Patriots won the state championship in 2017 but fell in the state semifinals last season. They got a chance at redemption Friday, and defender Emily Ward got Albemarle on the board in the first half with her first goal of the season.
“She’s next in line, right behind Megan,” Sherrill said. “[The goal was] fitting, to kind of pass the torch.”
Douglas Freeman struck back after halftime, when defender Karson Girvin found the back of the net with 22:11 left in the contest. It proved the last offense for some time, as neither team could break through in overtime.
The Patriots practice taking penalty kicks in practice, but not the isolating walk from midfield to the goal. With the game on the line Friday, Schantz was called on to make the voyage. And she made it count.
“I’m sure it’s awful,” Sherrill said, a patch of wet turf stuck to her forehead. “I’m glad I don’t have to go through that.”
Albemarle will play Deep Run in the championship game Saturday at 10 a.m. at Hermitage High School.