FOREST — Sixth-seeded Charlottesville carried plenty of momentum into Sabre Stadium on Thursday. On the road to their matchup with host Jefferson Forest, the Black Knights had knocked off two higher seeds in the Region 4D girls soccer tournament, toppling the Nos. 3 and 2 seeds in the first two rounds.
Only the top-seeded Cavaliers stood in the way of a Charlottesville sweep of the region’s top three squads for a region title.
Forest, though, wouldn’t be moved.
The defense formed an impenetrable wall. The midfield won balls in the air and on the ground all night. And the unit of talented forwards finished the job, pushing Jefferson Forest to a 1-0 victory and the championship.
“It’s good to see that they were out there ready to battle,” Jefferson Forest coach Matt Newton, who was named the Region 4D coach of the year Thursday, said of his team, “and hopefully we’ll be able to do that again Tuesday [at states].”
According to JF sophomore Taylor Mason, who recorded an assist on the game’s only goal, the Cavaliers weren’t content to relax Thursday. They’d already punched their ticket to the upcoming state tournament regardless of the outcome of the region title game, but a loss wasn’t an option.
So the Cavaliers, thanks to a goal in the 11th minute and their prevailing talent across the field, continued their 2019 victory parade, improving their undefeated record to 20-0.
Forest outshot CHS 14-4 on the game and 7-1 in the second half. The Cavaliers capitalized just once, but an early goal proved to be the only one they needed.
Olivia Magenbauer, the Cavaliers senior forward who throughout the season has proven a constant scoring threat, delivered the dagger on a pass from Mason, holding off a trailing defender near the middle of the field before knocking the ball into the left side of the net.
“Taylor Mason is great at reading those plays, and I guess it was just a foot race for who could get to the ball first,” Magenbauer said.
Mason saw the play developing from 30-plus yards away, sending a through ball from the right side toward the center of the field, in perfect position for Magenbauer.
“I just saw the line [for the] pass, and Liv got to it,” Mason said. “It’s all Liv.”
Charlottesville coach Marcelle Van Yahres credited JF for taking advantage of her team’s defensive miscue. The Black Knights (15-5-1) stood tall on several occasions, limiting JF’s chances on six corner kicks and forcing long shots.
“We should’ve capitalized more. But it’s OK,” Mason said. “We got the win.”
The Cavaliers, though, forced Charlottesville keeper Adria Cafferillo to stay alert in goal, forcing her to make five saves thanks to their six shots on goal.
JF had a few prime scoring opportunities in the second half, including a header from senior midfielder Sophia Palladino, named the Region 4D player of the year Thursday, off a corner kick. The shot was the first good goal-scoring chance for the Cavs on a set piece all day, but Palladino knocked it right to Cafferillo.
Despite allowing JF to record its 18th shutout of the season with the 1-0 loss, the Black Knights became just the third team this season to force Jefferson Forest to play a game decided by one goal. In 20 games, JF has won by at least six goals 14 times.
“I think it just shows how much we’ve come in a year,” Sifri said, adding the result was an improvement on a 3-2 loss to JF last year in the Region 4D quarterfinals that ended the Black Knights’ season.
Forest’s defense, meanwhile, was stout, only allowing three shots on goal. Led by seniors Rebecca Allison and Megan Butcher, the Cavaliers held the Black Knights to just one shot in the final 40 minutes.
“I think we could’ve scored more, but we also need to give our defenders a lot of credit,” Magenbauer said. “…They’re just dirty. They’re great at blocking people, reading plays and playing off each other. … We [the goal-scorers] get the spotlight, but really they’re the ones carrying the team.”
Jefferson Forest and Charlottesville both will play in the Class 4 state tournament quarterfinals Tuesday (times have not yet been announced). The Cavaliers secured home-field advantage for their contest against Region 4C runner-up Woodgrove, while the Black Knights will travel to take on Region 4C champ and 2018 state champ Loudoun County.