FAIRFAX -- Not often does a goalkeeper get the opportunity to take over a game in a state championship match, and much less often does the opportunity arise in a penalty shootout.
With two penalty saves and an equal number of goals scored in the penalty shootout that ultimately decided the 5A boys soccer state championship, Micah Scott of Briar Woods stole the show between the posts for the Falcons, foiling Mills Godwin of a second state championship in three years, defeating the Eagles 5-4 on penalties Saturday at Westfield High School.
“Micah is a senior which has become — I’m not going to say he's a man — but he’s getting there. He has the leadership,” Briar Woods coach Francois Bernard said of his goalkeeper after the game.
“I think in the past he may have maybe had some fear or lack of confidence at times…But this year he’s just been a gift to have on the team.”
After dispatching the first penalty kick made by Godwin, Scott came to the rescue of teammate Connor Shockley several kicks later with the penalty score at 3-2 in favor of Mills Godwin, saving Carter Ryder’s attempt on Mills Godwin’s next attempt to give the Falcons an opportunity to level the score.
Consecutive made penalties by teammates Ryan Blazauskas and Aidan Sullivan forced the game to a sixth penalty kick, and with the score locked at 4-4, Scott made a diving save of Holden Fisher’s shot for Mills Godwin to give Briar Woods the opportunity to hoist its first-ever state championship trophy with a goal on the next kick, a kick to be taken by Scott.
The senior goalie stepped up, shot to Godwin keeper Sam Hughes’ left, and despite the goalkeeper’s best effort, the ball trickled over the line and the Falcons ran away as champions.
“I’m just happy it’s in the bag now…but I have to say, I’m so happy that this team achieved this, because it wasn’t about one player or two players. It was about a team,” Bernard added of his team’s first state title after his program had stalled in the past to win beyond the conference and regional level.
Battling heat and the exhaustion resulted from Friday’s hard-fought overtime win in the state semifinals against Tuscarora, Mills Godwin struggled to find its pace at times and struggled to combine to create clear-cut chances to break through the Falcons’ defense, a fact coach Cody Johnson attributed to both the quality of Briar Woods and the sweltering conditions.
“That was a good team, both teams played 95 minutes of soccer yesterday and in 90 degree heat, its hard to come out and fight,” Johnson said.
“It was a battle of minutes. For 10 minutes they looked good and for 10 minutes we pressured them and looked good. It was just unfortunate that we came out on the wrong end of PKs.”
Although Johnson will lament the opportunity for his team to underscore the success in his first season at the helm with a state championship, the Eagles’ coach found positivity from within the cloud of disappointment his team experienced from inches short of a state title.
“I brought some discipline to the program. All of these kids bought into what I tried to do for them and I’m looking for year two,” Johnson said with his eye already on next season.
“I thought (this season) was brilliant and I think we have some unfinished business.”