Sterling, VA (May 29, 2018) – The regional championship game would be the third time the Freedom Eagles and Potomac Falls Panthers faced each other this season. The Eagles won the regular season matchup, but the Panthers took the Potomac District tournament championship game, which earned them the top seed in the region and home field advantage.
Chas Sumser Photography was there to capture the action and emotion and posted a gallery of images from the game.
A regular season overall record of 8-6 would not make anyone guess that Potomac Falls would be in position to defend their back-to-back state championships. But a five game winning streak through the playoffs was changing that possibility. In their way was Freedom, who finished the season at 12-2 and 7-0 in the district including a 14-10 win over the Panthers.
By virtue of being in the final, both teams had already qualified for the state tournament. Yet, clearly, both teams had something to play for.
Potomac Falls got off fast with two goals in in quick succession, but Freedom would strike back with three of their own. And that's the way the whole game would go. Four times the lead would change hands and neither team would ever get more than a two-goal advantage.
With ten minutes remaining in the game, and the score tied at 9-9, Potomac Falls went into a slow-down, methodically working the ball around the Freedom net while trying to force the Eagles to press. The strategy worked enabled Julia Badolato to score her fifth goal of the game and gave the Panthers the lead with just three minutes left.
But the Eagles' Emily Maier--whose four goals matched her teammate Morgan Koeneke's output--was not done. The swift attacker raced down the field on the ensuing possession to tie the game again. With time running out it looked like the title would have to be decided in overtime.
Except that wasn't the case. Potomac Falls immediately won possession and aggressively looked for an opening in the Freedom defense. Panther Emily Jencks found one and put the ball past Eagle goalie Araya McNeal for the win and the championship.
Final score: Potomac Falls 11 - Freedom 10
|Players who could be clearly identified by jersey number are listed in the links below. Additional photos of these and other players may be viewed and purchased in the full gallery.|