— Region finals can be tricky under the current Virginia High School League postseason structure.
The Jamestown girls soccer team clinched a state semifinal berth on Wednesday in a hard-fought win over Monacan, but had to play again on Thursday in the 4A East championship against King's Fork. A win would ensure a seemingly easier path to the state final, but a loss would not be cause for elimination.
The quick turnarounds are the perfect recipe for letdowns, but Jamestown followed clinching its first state tournament berth in 18 years Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over King's Fork Thursday to claim the region crown and extend its unbeaten streak to 11 matches.
"They just had to push through it and they came out and they did," Jamestown co-coach Kevin Dawson said. "They definitely outworked, outran King's Fork in the second half."
Jamestown (17-2) got its coveted goal in the 44th minute when Sofie Fox played a ball for Kylie Devine, who dribbled into the penalty area and slammed a perfect far-post finish with her right foot beyond the reach of the goalkeeper.
"One adjustment that we made in the second half was just getting into the attack," said Jamestown assistant coach Caity Brown, "so Kylie Devine did a great job of just getting up with Sofie and allowing us to continue our attack into the offensive third."
In the latter part of the second half, the Eagles' defense sewed up about every patch of green space in the King's Fork offensive half. Jamestown goalkeeper Emma Hudson was largely unchallenged in front of Page Frantz, Summer Haag and Fox, who dropped back from the attack to form an impenetrable central cog with Frantz.
Fox netted all three against Monacan with Devine and Haag registering assists. The second, to make it 2-0 less than 10 minutes into the second half, was the backbreaker as Fox was knocked down to all fours in front of goal before scurrying to her feet past the diving Chiefs goalkeeper to score. A 50-minute weather delay immediately ensued.
Eventually, the Eagles celebrated a state tournament berth the players were not all sure they would clinch when the season started. Last season ended with a defeat to Monacan in the region semifinals.
"We were trying to find ourselves and really trying to click because we were missing a lot of players from last year," said senior defender Setta Brown, who is sitting out the season due to a concussion. "We weren't sure if we were going to have that same chemistry. But I think we definitely meshed well together within the past 12 weeks."
Jamestown owns one state title in program history, coming in 1999. The Eagles will face the loser of Jefferson Forest-Salem Friday in Salem for the right to appear in another title game.
"We're really proud of our girls," Jamestown co-coach Michelle Dawson said, "because it took a lot of effort for them to be able to get there."
Hudson, one of the rare four-year varsity players on the team this season, said of clinching states, "Gosh, that's amazing. Like, wow."
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.