Jamestown won its only girls soccer state championship 20 years ago this week in Roanoke. Returning to Roanoke for the latest of many state tournament appearances since, the Eagles paid fitting tribute to the anniversary with 80 minutes of tough defense.
When a more talented foe pushes the attack seemingly 90 percent of the time, however, bend will eventually break. Such was the case as Woodgrove scored three second-half goals to break away to a 4-0 victory in a Class 4 semifinal Friday at Roanoke College.
The loss marked the end of Jamestown’s season and the end of the high school careers of four senior starters: Madeline Allburn, Brooke Fleischman, Summer Haag and Kylie Devine. But the respectable performance might have marked the first step in which the Eagles rise from perennial district and regional power to state contender yet again.
The roster lists six freshmen, three of them starters and two others who played significant minutes Friday. In addition, the Eagles’ first-year coach, Shawn Trueblood, is also a full-time women’s soccer assistant at Christopher Newport University, and he appreciates the deep state tournament run for helping him better understand what Jamestown’s girls must do to dominate more than just locally.
“I think it’s just continuing to have high expectations for ourselves,” Trueblood said. “I’m learning a lot coming through it and seeing the different teams in the different parts of the state, so this is eye-opening for me as well.
“I think it’s just a style-of-play thing we’re going to have to adapt, and we’re going to have to figure things out. And through the season, it was like Summer Haag was saying, our practices are going to be high-level and we’re going to be demanding a lot of ourselves to keep good habits throughout the year.”
Haag referred to the Woodgrove playing style, which she said involved connecting a lot of quick, short give-and-go passes. That the Wolverines had the talent to execute those passes at a level the Eagles (13-4-1) had not seen since some tough non-district games in March, was difficult for a team used to dominating possession.
“It definitely gave us a challenge, but I still think we did well together in the back,” Haag said.
Freshmen Mariela Gonzalez and Emma Fairheart played like they were much older for the Eagles’ defense, while Haag, Samantha Keener, Rebecca McCann and Clare Allburn displayed their experience. When they allowed shots, goalkeeper Baylee Ross was usually up to the task.
Ross was blocked by a defender on Woodgrove’s first goal and out of the game, sidelined temporarily from the pain of a collision, on the second. Elizabeth Marcheschi’s second goal for the Wolverines, with 16 minutes remaining, made it 3-0, and Woodgrove added a late goal against Jamestown’s subs.
Nevertheless, the future looks bright for the Eagles, whose returnees include South Carolina recruit Brianna Behm, who scored 38 goals this season. If progress continues, a state final appearance won’t be far away.
“I think we’re set up pretty well,” Trueblood said. “We were pretty young, and our seniors were awesome leaders with awesome attitudes.
“I think those seniors took us the first step forward.”