Quoted from the Roanoke Times.
3A girls soccer: Blacksburg downs Tabb, advances state final , Aaron McFarling
Special Thanks to The Roanoke Times
Amherst — The Blacksburg girls soccer team comes in waves. And on Friday, only one of those waves had to crest and crash to propel them into the VHSL Group 3A championship game yet again. Sophomore forward Kyia Williams came off the bench to score the game-winning goal in the 26th minute, and the Bruins defeated Tabb 1-0 in the Group 3A semifinals at Amherst County High School.
The Bruins (19-0-2) posted their 19th clean sheet of the season while extending their unbeaten streak to 64 matches. They’ll face Culpeper County, a 1-0 winner over Broadway in Friday’s other semifinal, in Saturday’s 10 a.m. title game at Liberty University. Blacksburg had a decided depth advantage on Tabb (18-3), running substitutes in and out of the game on a hot afternoon. Coach Travis Eschenmann, who typically plays 12 or 13 girls in the regular season, estimated that he gave extensive minutes to 16 or 17 players on Friday.
“We’re very blessed to have a large bench,” Eschenmann said. “All the girls that are there — I’m biased, of course — but I think a lot of those girls could start on a lot of teams. They’ve been great.” They were again on Friday, controlling possession and wearing down a Tabb side that created only a handful of scoring chances. “When I play big ball up, I know that our forwards are going to be able to run to it, because they’re not as tired,” Blacksburg central defender Aislinn Leedy said. “We have so many good players that go on the field. We always have a sub rotation no matter what game it is.
“Other teams that don’t have as many subs, you can tell they get tired, they get frustrated, and then they foul more, and it just helps us out. In the 26th minute, Williams got free on the left side of the 18-yard box with a well-timed run, took a pass from the midfield and found herself one-on-one with Tabb keeper Taylor Carr. “Kyia’s very aggressive,” Leedy said. “She’s always looking to go to goal. She doesn’t let anyone stand in her way — ever. She’ll just go through until she wins the ball.” A right-footed player, Williams smashed a left-footed shot into the back of the net for her fourth goal of the season.
“At first I was like, ‘Oh, the keeper got it,’ ” Williams said. “But when I saw it go in the back of the net, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I just scored!’ ” Because Williams is a reserve, Tabb hadn’t scouted much of her on video. “Smart play by her, great reading of the play to see that we pulled back onsides,” Tabb coach Kelle Shiflett said. “Great foresight from a young player to have her head up and see what’s out there and take advantage of it. It won them the game.” As did Blacksburg’s defense, which still has not allowed a goal during the run of play all season. Both goals they’ve conceded have been on penalty kicks.
The Bruins had several opportunities to increase their lead — most notably in the 68th minute, when a header by Eden-Elizabeth Phillips banged off the crossbar — but their own goalkeeper, Chris Martin, wasn’t heavily challenged. “I think we could have put more chances away,” sophomore forward Meghan Shelton said. “For me, I had a few chances that I could have put away.
“We still played pretty good. I think coming into tomorrow we need to keep pressuring, keep shooting, and if they don’t go in, you’ve just got to continue to shoot. You can’t let down.”