By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
SOUTH CHARLESTON —
It took 100 minutes of soccer and six penalty kicks to decide a winner, but in the end, only one team would be “Beckley bound” for the state tournament.
The George Washington Lady Patriots defeated Woodrow Wilson 4-3 on penalty kicks to win the Class AAA Region 3 championship Tuesday night at the Friends of Coal Fields at Trace Fork.
“This feels amazing,” George Washington coach Megan Johnson said. “I’m beyond words right now. (It’s) such a great feeling to know these girls worked hard and never gave up. I mean, all the way to the end they fought hard. They wanted it. We deserved this win, without a doubt.”
Tied three goals apiece in the shootout, Johnson sent Emma Hanna to take the shot. The senior reared back and fired a rocket to the top-left corner of the goal as the celebration began on the Patriots’ sideline with chants of “Beckley bound.”
While there were tears of joy on the GW sideline, there were tears of sadness and exhaustion on the Flying Eagles side, but none from longtime coach Paulette Umberger, who flashed a smile through sorrowful eyes.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m thrilled we could hold them and get them to overtime,” she said. “They’re an awesome team. The last time they beat us 5-0, and I thought we played great. Our improvement from the last time we played them was big. I’m sure they didn’t expect us to go out and play them like this tonight.”
George Washington managed 11 shots on goal during 100 minutes of action, but not a single one found the back of the net, thanks to Woodrow goalkeeper Emily Lane.
“I thought she did a great job,” Umberger said proudly. “She did a wonderful job.”
While George Washington managed 11 shots on goal, the Flying Eagles didn’t tally a single kick on frame during the period of play.
“Their keeper (Olivia Miller) is a fantastic keeper,” said Umberger. “It’s hard to get the ball anywhere near her end of the field, because she’s such a good keeper. I can’t be anything but proud of our kids.
“I’m really sorry it came out the way it did. They can’t hang their heads down at all on this. They played a great game.”
Johnson had only praise for her keeper following the match.
“Olivia is definitely, by far, the best keeper in the state,” Johnson said. “I’m not just saying that because I’m her coach. I’ve seen a lot of good keepers, and there isn’t one I’d rather have than Olivia.”
Johnson recalled her own experiences during penalty kicks. A 2009 graduate of George Washington, she was often selected to shoot for the Lady Patriots.
“It’s very frustrating, but sometimes the shots just don’t go in,” she said. “That’s just the game of soccer. It’s very frustrating. I was nervous over there. This is my first experience with this. All I could do was try to keep the girls motivated.
“They were ready. They gave 100 percent, and this is what happens when you do that.”
Now for the Lady Patriots, it’s on to the states.
“We’re Beckley bound,” Johnson said proudly. “I’m so excited.”
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