STUARTS DRAFT — The Stuarts Draft High School girls soccer team cleared its final hurdle to qualify for the Class 2 State Tournament on Wednesday night, shutting out visiting Luray 3-0 in the Region 2B playoffs.
Two goals by Alison Quick against the wind, combined with Lindsday Harris' end line shot into the corner netting in the first half were enough to send the Cougars through.
With the victory, the Draft girls advance to Friday's regional championship game where they will tangle with state champion George Mason in Falls Church. Both finalists qualify for next week's eight-team state tourney.
The win was the fourth this season for the Cougars (20-1) over the stubborn Bulldogs. Last week, the Cougars defeated Luray 2-1 in the district semifinals.
The teams were deadlocked in a scoreless duel until Harris neatly negotiated the ball on the left end line and, from a difficult angle, kicked the ball into the far right corner of the goal with just 5:43 remaining in the first 40-minute half.
Stuarts Draft goalkeeper Emma Gallaugher kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard, aided by some tenacious defense by the Cougars' back line.
"Emma had some big saves for us," said Stuarts Draft High head coach Bridget Lane.
With the win, the Luray attack pressed into the second half behind freshman Emilee Weakley, but still the Bulldogs couldn't break through with the equalizer.
Then Quick, against the run of play, nailed a low shot past freshman Luray goalkeeper Amber Tharpe to give the Cougars some breathing room.
Quick scored the final goal on a breakaway with 14:18 remaining to send the Cougars back into the state tournament.
"This is really big and something we've been working so hard for," said senior midfielder Hannah Chatterton.
Nine Draft seniors had set making the state tournament a goal for the season.
"We had some girls in different positions and our bench played some more minutes and they really came up big," Lane said.
Playing George Mason on a turf field will be a formidable task as the Mustangs defeated Wilson Memorial 9-0 on Wednesday night in the other regional semifinal.
"We will have to keep our heads in it," Lane said.
The winner of Friday's match will host a first-round state playoff game, while the loser will have to travel.
This is the third trip in school history to the state tournament for the Cougars, who made it to the state final under Lane in 2017.