BRISTOL, Va. – After going undefeated for 22 games this season, the John Battle High School girls soccer team suffered their first loss on Tuesday night with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of James River in the VHSL Class 2 state quarterfinals.
“It’s hard to walk away at the end of the season. These ladies have worked so hard. They have pushed so hard. There’s never been a group of ladies that have worked as hard in this program in the history of this program. Throughout the course of this season, these ladies have said they have a God-given gift, and they wanted to use it for His glory,” Battle assistant coach Benson Redman said. “They have played with this spirit and attitude of never quit, and even today in the trenches they just kept fighting, and I’m proud of them. I’m so proud to be a part of this program.”
The Trojans and the Knights entered halftime in a scoreless tie, and it wasn’t until the 51st minute that James River put the first point on the board on a goal by sophomore Rachael Hix. Two minutes later senior Megan Hill made it a 2-0 game, and then freshman Kayla Myers found the back of the net less than a minute later to push the Knights’ lead to three goals. The Trojans were able to keep the ball on the Knights’ side of the field for much of the final 20 minutes of the match, but they were unable to break through the James River defense as they saw their season come to a close.
“We played our game, and we tend to do better in the second half than in the first half, so this was pretty much a traditional game for us,” James River head coach Bill Smith said. “We just kept our heads about it and they played like they’ve been playing.”
Senior Colleen Haderer recorded a match-high 10 saves for Battle in the loss. James River goalie Colleen Peery finished the game with six saves.
“When you get to the final eight, it’s hard against a team like James River that is making perennial appearances in the state tournament,” Redman said. “They had excellent passes and they had three quick goals that did kind of knock us off our stride, but they didn’t let anything in for the last 25 minutes after that.”
The Knights advanced to the Class 2 semifinals on Friday, where they will take on Maggie at 1 p.m. at Radford University.
The Trojans ended the best season in school history with a 20-1-2 record, while also claiming the Mountain 7 District regular-season title, the Mountain 7 District tournament title and the VHSL Region 2D championship. As the team prepares for the offseason and looks toward 2020, Redman expressed pride in his team and excitement for their future.
“Looking ahead to next season, we’ve got a lot of returning girls, and we want to continue building on this program. This is my eighth year with the program, and what I can honestly say is this program is a program that has just grown year after year,” Redman said. “So we want to take what we’ve done this year — and it’s going to be very hard to replace those four ladies that have been on this field and that have given so much — but with what we’ve got coming up, the work and the work ethic that’s there, we’re definitely looking forward to what they can produce in the next season.”