By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
After winning nine of its last 11 games via defensive shutouts, Woodrow Wilson could be forgiven for playing it safe on offense Wednesday against George Washington.
The problem was George Washington has an equally good defense, and the Patriots scored first.
A late 10-minute flurry of attacks and shots went for naught for the Flying Eagles as GW made an early second-half goal stand up for a 1-0 win in the Class AAA Region 3 boys soccer championship game at Schoenbaum Stadium.
Woodrow (9-8-4) looked happy to play defense, not taking a shot on goal in the first half, and remained in its offensive doldrums after the Patriots’ Daniel Glines scored off a Garrett Warner assist three minutes after halftime.
“We couldn’t get our offense going,” Woodrow coach Rockey Powell said. “(GW) did what they were supposed to and they finally scored.”
George Washington (16-5-2), the defending AAA champion, dominated possession in the first half, rarely allowing Woodrow incursions into its territory.
But while the Patriots took several shots, including three on goal, and had numerous other opportunities, the Flying Eagles’ defense stood firm. Senior keeper Casey Young had two saves, and a defender raced in to block another shot when Young was pulled out.
“We should have had a couple of scores that just didn’t go in,” GW coach Tom Hopper said. “We were playing well. We didn’t make any changes at halftime.”
Glines, a junior midfielder, broke the scoring drought after Warner found him on the left side of the box. He shot across the face of the goal and into the right side of the net, just beyond Young’s reach.
“Daniel comes through with a big play every once in a while,” Hopper said.
“We don’t have any one outstanding player. We don’t score a lot of goals, and we’re happy when someone gets one.”
Finally, its back to the wall, Woodrow’s offense finally came alive. The Flying Eagles drove deep into the box several times, and Justin Johnson and Ryan Thompson got off shots. GW keeper Garrett Phillips tracked them down, however.
Phillips also out-leaped the attackers on a high corner kick, hauled in a long, curving direct kick by Woodrow all-stater Luke Rodriguez, and then stepped high into the box with just over a minute to go to break up a final threat.
It was too little, too soon for Woodrow, a winner of three state championships under Powell.
“We have to get down and get under pressure before the offense starts to play,” Powell said. “That’s plagued us all year.
“After we get started, we’re a pretty aggressive team. We knock the ball around and wait for the defense to make a mistake.”
Hopper said, “They came at us hard in the last 10 minutes. They got us on our heels. I think our guys got a little tired.”
George Washington advances to next week’s state tournament in Beckley.
Woodrow will graduate seniors Rodriguez, Young, Dylan Harvey, Ty Law, Nick Chandler, Drew Woodridge and Branson DeWese.
“The guys finally started clicking in the second half of the season,” Powell said. “They finished well.
“We got a lot of young guys some experience. Hopefully we’ll be good next year.”
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