Ties are rarely a cause for jubilation in soccer, and scoreless ties even less so. But Warhill High's girls might look back on their 0-0 result at Tabb on Thursday more fondly in 12 days.
By then the Lions should, barring the unexpected, wrap up the regular season with two more Bay Rivers District wins. And that would give the Lions (8-0-2, 5-0-2 district) no worse than a share of the district title, a feat no other athletic team has accomplished in the school's nearly four-year existence.
Better still from Warhill's perspective would be for Tabb (10-1-1, 5-1-1) to beat or tie Jamestown (7-1-2, 4-0-2), so it would not have to share the title with the defending champion Eagles. The Lions came tantalizingly close in the waning moments to scoring a goal that would've put them in sole possession of their championship destiny.
Warhill midfielder Chelsea Wolfe's cross into the box in the final seconds of the second five-minute overtime gave her team two great chances to break the tie. The first, Sorcha Hartman's shot from point-blank range, was saved by Tabb goalkeeper Kelsey Hecker.
When Hecker failed to possess the ball completely, Lions forward Ashley Williams poked it partially over the goal line. Unlike (American) football, a soccer ball must clear the line completely to be a goal, and when Tabb's Megan Richards cleared the ball off of the line, the tie was assured.
"For the amount of goals Warhill has been putting on other teams, to be the only team to hold them scoreless is something to be proud of," Tabb coach Wendy Wilson said of Warhill's 49-4 goals margin in district play.
Tabb almost had a score it could be even prouder of four minutes from the end of regulation. Bri Jasenak's free kick from about 18 yards bounced off the near post, before Tabb teammate Hollie MacDonald shot the rebound just wide.
But those belated goal-scoring opportunities were an aberration in a game which otherwise produced so few. Warhill had a slight 12-10 edge in shots, but those attempts prompted only five saves each from the goalies — Hecker and Warhill's Sam Hobe — and most of those were routine.
The stars on this night were defenders. MacDonald was a ball-clearance machine for the Tigers, while teammates Marissa O'Brien, Hayley Mills and Dianna Kinney also did nice work for Tabb in defense. Erin Giblin, Heather Howell and Kelly Troup were among the rocks in back for the Lions.
The best chances for both teams came on early breakaways. Tabb's Alison Harmatz appeared to have some daylight after beating two defenders to the ball, but the Lions recovered quickly. That came moments after Williams intercepted a pass and forced a Hecker save.
Otherwise, admirable intensity among the 22 on the field resulted in the unsatisfying stalemate. Satisfaction, and a district title trophy, should be just around the corner for the Lions.
For now, pride will suffice.
"We were hustling and played with heart," Erin Giblin said. "I'm very proud of us for that."
WARHILL 0, TABB 0
Shots on goal
: Warhill 12, Tabb 10.
: Warhill, Hobe 5; Tabb, Hecker 5.
: Warhill 4, Tabb 3.