By J Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Perhaps they caught George Washington looking ahead to Winfield.
Perhaps George Washington underestimated them.
Whatever the reason, it didn’t seem to matter to the group from Charles Town as the Washington Patriots eliminated the George Washington Patriots 1-0 in the Class AAA girls semifinal Friday.
The normally impenetrable GW defense, which allowed zero shots on goal in the regional final against Woodrow Wilson, showed a brief collapse, allowing Washington to find the net.
In the 17th minute, sophomore Haelly Ramirez fired a shot toward GW keeper Olivia Miller, which reflected off the junior.
Washington freshman Atley Fortney was able to respond to the rebound and fire it home for the game’s lone goal.
“We’re always taught to just follow the ball and track your shots,” Ramirez said after the match. “Atley was just there to make that beautiful second touch on the goal.
“I’m glad we have our forwards. Our midfield penetrates well, and we do well as a team. That’s what we’ve worked on for the last several weeks — finishing. We’ve just improved so much. I’m so proud of my team.”
The freshman hero of the Eastern Panhandle wasn’t one to take credit.
“The only reason I actually had my goal was because Haelly took the first shot and I followed,” she said. “The only reason I had the opportunity was because the ball got up there by my teammates, and Haelly took the shot.”
Washington High was able to crack six shots on goal, many of which were reflected by Miller, but as was the case during the regional final, GW was unable to find the goal, managing a meager shot from Hannah Ellis, despite controlling the pace and much of the offense for the full 80 minutes.
“That was what was the most frustrating about it,” first year GW coach Megan Johnson said. “Controlling the game and playing the soccer we played and not being able to finish is probably one of the worst losses you could face.
“This was a hard-fought game all around,” she added. “I thought we were equally matched, and all the girls played hard. Unfortunately, we had the loss, but that’s soccer. Washington did a very good job; they’re a very good team.”
Coach Tim Michael was quick to dismiss the thought that this game was a fluke.
“I think in everybody else’s eyes it was an upset, but not for me. I’ve been around these girls since we started the program,” he said. “I just know how hard they dig and nobody can count us out of anything. We’re not the flashiest or strongest but I think we play with a lot of heart.”
While Washington may have felt like they weren’t the underdog everyone else thought, Johnson felt that maybe her team was guilty of overlooking them and focusing on a potential rematch with Winfield.
“I think it was in the back of their heads,” she said. “I tried to enforce to them to say obviously we can’t get there if we can’t get through this one. All of today we didn’t really talk about tomorrow, we talked about today. That’s what we focused on. But I know it was in the back of their heads, I know it would be a dream for them to go replay them. Washington’s a good team and it’s going to be a good championship. It’s going to be some good soccer.”
Michael doesn’t feel his team is done quite yet.
“We play with a lot of heart,” he said. “We showed that against George Washington and I feel like we can show that against Winfield.”
That match is scheduled to start 45 minutes following the conclusion of the boys championship match, which is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.