Washington's girl's soccer team may have gotten off to a sluggish start, but now that the Patriots have played more than half of their schedule, things are starting to come into clearer focus.

Washington matched up well with visiting Spring Mills on Thursday, coming away with a 2-1 win over the Cardinals at Terry L. Marcus Stadium in Charles Town. The win avenges a 1-0 loss on the road at Spring Mills earlier in the season.

“I think we just controlled the ball a little better in this match,” Washington girls’ coach Tim Michael said. “When we started out in the match, we were a little bit panicked, but we settled down in the second half. We were able to move to the ball. I think that was a big difference.”

In the win over Spring Mills, Sara Ward gave the Patriots (9-4) a 1-0 lead when she punched in a shot, which came back off a goal post after Hannah Hill tried a shot. 

“I got the ball when it bounced off the post and I just punched it right back into the goal,” Ward said. 

The Cardinals tied the match at 1 with 2:30 left in the first half on an in-close goal by Sarah Rader. Washington answered that score six minutes into the second half when freshman Megan Cantley fired in a close range shot into the net.

“The ball bounced off the keeper, then off my sister, Morgan,” Megan Cantley said. “The ball bounced off Morgan’s stomach. I ran through and hit it right into the goal.”

Washington outshot the Cardinals, 21-11. Keeper Erica Schnable had five saves for the Patriots.

Even though the Patriots are playing better with each match, Michael doesn’t want his team to lose any of its intensity.

“I think there’s still a lot that I think we need to work on,” Michael said. “We had a little bit of a mental lapse when we gave up that goal, but we were able to bounce back. That was good to see.”

OF LATE, Jefferson’s boys’ soccer team has been hit with a rash of injuries. This wasn’t what Joe Moffett envisioned when he took over as head coach of the Cougars about a month ago.

He was hoping the Cougars, who advanced to last year’s WVSSAC’s Class AAA state semifinals in Beckley, would continue to build on last year’s success, even though it was a patchwork season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This looked promising at first. Then came the injuries, which took its toll on some starters.

Moffett, who was a late hire this summer when former coach Tanner Robison was named athletic director at Washington High School, has been forced to turn to his junior varsity program, bringing up a few players to augment the reduced varsity ranks. While the younger players are gaining experience, the team has been struggling to get back to the .500 mark.

“Yes, we’re battling a lot of injuries,” Moffett said following a 2-0 loss to visiting Spring Mills last Tuesday, Sept. 28. “It’s almost like two seasons. The first season, we were healthy. Now, I think I’m up to almost 10 or 11 guys injured.”

In the loss to the Cardinals, the Cougars, now 4-7-2, fell behind in the first three minutes of the match. Senior Dalton Rahison took a crossing pass in front of the goal and shot it into the left-rear corner of the Jefferson goal for a 1-0, Spring Mills lead.

At the 15-minute, 29 second-mark of the half, the Cardinals made it a 2-0 match when Sidney Crockett put a shot into the net. Jefferson shut out Spring Mills the rest of the way, but were unable to create a lot of scoring opportunities against the Cardinals’ defense.

“That’s what happens when you have those tight games coming at you week-by-week,” Moffett said. “Spring Mills came out strong early. I think they caught us off guard. We never found our way back in.”

Jefferson’s wins so far this season have been against Hampshire, Mercersburg, Berkeley Springs and University. As the season has progressed, more and more players have come down with injuries, forcing Moffett to shuffle his starting lineup around.

The one element of the Cougars’ game, which has stayed strong is in goal, where keeper Connor Barr has kept matches within reason. Against Spring Mills, he turned back four shots, including at least two from close range.

“Connor has really stepped up for us,” Moffett said. “I’ve got some defenders back there with him who have been brought up from the junior varsity. They actually did a great job, but I still think they’re getting used to it.”

Spring Mills defeated the Cougars, 9-6.

Last Saturday, Jefferson lost a road match at Mercersburg Academy, 2-1.

JEFFERSON’S GIRLS SOCCER team went 2-0-1 this past week. The Cougars and Spring Mills played to a 1-1 tie on Tuesday, then edged Hedgesville on the road last Thursday, 1-0. Last Saturday, the Cougars won at Mercersburg Academy, 5-0.

Jefferson is 10-1-1 on the year.

In the deadlock with Spring Mills, Jordan Rawlins scored an unassisted goal. Sera Hawley had six saves for Jefferson.

Grace Lochner had the lone goal for the Cougars against Hedgesville, on an assist from Molly Colbert. Leila Mallamas had six saves for Jefferson.

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