Brown nets sec­ond-half hat trick

LOUDOUN CO. 3, HER­ITAGE 1

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY DIL­LON MUL­LAN dil­lon.mul­lan@wash­post.com

lynch­burg, va. — In the first half of Satur­day morn­ing’s Vir­ginia 4A girls’ soc­cer state ti­tle game, con­stant dou­ble teams barely al­lowed stand­out mid­fielder Emily Lit­tell any touches for un­de­feated Loudoun County. Her­itage se­nior goal­keeper Zoe Fox­hall helped or­ches­trate the con­tain­ment of one of the area’s most lethal scor­ers, and her first-half saves left the Raiders fac­ing their first half­time deficit of the sea­son.

While Lit­tell’s space re­mained limited to start the sec­ond­half, Allyson Brown stepped up and broke free. The sopho­more’s unas­sisted sec­ond-half hat trick se­cured Loudoun County’s first state cham­pi­onship in a 3-1 win over Her­itage at Lib­erty Uni­ver­sity.

“I like it when teams dou­ble or triple Emily. It leaves the whole mid­dle wide open,” said Brown, who had 32 goals on the sea­son.

“It feels great. This has been our num­ber one goal all sea­son, and to come back like we did shows how much we wanted this.”

Af­ter a stel­lar first-half per­for­mance by Fox­hall (six saves) sent Her­itage (16-7) into the half with a 1-0 lead, it was clear the Raiders needed a spe­cial strike to get the ball past her. That’s pre­cisely what Brown de­liv­ered three min­utes into the sec­ond half.

She picked the ball off of a Pride de­fender and fired a right­footed curler from 18 yards out that spun out of the reach of Fox­hall and into the top cor­ner. Seven­teen sec­onds later, Fox­hall again was forced to pick the ball out of her own net af­ter Brown turned over a Her­itage de­fender straight off the kick­off be­fore fin­ish­ing on the break­away.

“I was think­ing about how I was go­ing to score the whole time, but I knew it was bet­ter to not think about it and just let it hap­pen,” Brown said. “Zoe is one of the best goalies I have ever seen, and it’s so hard to play against her.”

Fox­hall helped build her team’s half­time lead six min­utes into the con­test when her mon­strous drop-kick took only one bounce to reach the top of the Raiders’ 18-yard box. From there, ju­nior for­ward Kathryn Counts took ad­van­tage of de­fen­sive in­de­ci­sion to run onto the bounc­ing ball and smash home the game’s open­ing goal.

The victory was the first in five trips to the state fi­nals for Loudoun County (23-0-1).

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