SALEM — Sometimes the best laid plans don’t always work.
Monticello girls soccer coach Thomas Warren had a perfect scouting report on the Mustangs’ opponent in Friday’s Class 3 state semifinal game and admits his team followed it perfectly.
Unfortunately for Monticello, Brentsville District’s execution was just a bit better as the Tigers outlasted the Mustangs 3-1 in the VHSL Class 3 state semifinals at Spartan Stadium.
Catherine Forst scored two goals and Madison Fitzpatrick added another as Brentsville District (17-2-2) earned a berth in the state championship game.
Warren’s plan was to limit penalty corner opportunities and neutralize the effectiveness of Forst and Fitzpatrick, the Tigers’ two all-region performers.
“We expected exactly what we saw,” Warren said. “No. 3 [Fitzpatrick] and No. 13 [Forst] were going to be very talented. We knew they were strong on corners too and they had only one in the game and it was an important goal by [Forst]. They kind of did what we knew they were good at, unfortunately, they executed well. While we executed our game plan 97% of the time, we didn’t the other three percent.”
Offensively, Monticello (15-7) dominated the possession game and outshot Brentsville District 13-4 on the game. The Tigers were just more efficient with their chances.
“[We] have a phenomenal group of players and they are super talented,” Warren said. “There’s no question if you were watching, or a fan of the game, you could see that they’re very talented. They were calm in possession and had a lot of creativity in the team. Unfortunately, a team can score three goals on four shots and that’s what Brentsville did today.”
After holding them at bay defensively for the first 10 minutes, Brentsville finally had a chance to make something happen offensively. Forst found some space on the left wing and the senior midfielder ripped a shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with 28:34 left in the first half.
The Tigers added to their lead 14 minutes later, taking advantage of a turnover in their own zone. Madison Fitzpatrick intercepted a pass from the Monticello goalkeeper 20 yards from goal and made a nifty one-touch move around the keeper and buried a chance with her right foot for a 2-0 lead with 14:14 left.
Despite the 2-0 hole, Monticello continued to fight and the hard work resulted in a goal just before halftime.
After extended pressure in the box, including a penalty corner opportunity, Cami Hoke ripped a shot from 25 yards out that deflected off the goalkeeper’s hand and into the net to trim the lead to 2-1 with 8:34 left in the half.
“It really was important for them, because it’s something I’ve been saying is that you’ve got to believe in our system and continue to play the way that got us here,” Warren said. “If you suddenly play too aggressive, that crazy pass instead of a simple one, then it just falls apart. That goal was validation of that. If you keep cycling and moving, it will happen.”
The Mustangs couldn’t capitalize on the momentum in the second half, as Forst scored on a header during a corner kick chance to extend the lead to 3-1 with 34 minutes left.
Monticello was active in the final third for the last 20 minutes of the game, but was unable to find another goal.
The state loss couldn’t spoil a remarkable season for the Mustangs. They won the program’s first regional title and reached the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
Warren will have fond memories of this group.
“The group of seniors, my immediate feeling is the goofy handshakes and their sense of camaraderie, teamwork and servitude towards each other,” Warren said. “Every game, we do a little visualization and the last thing we say is ‘Play for our team.’ There’s no group that embodies that more than this group of girls.”