The enthusiastic crowd that filled the bleachers of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School stadium during Tuesday night's girls' soccer Class 4A West Region second round game between the top-seeded Barons and visiting Winston Churchill fell nearly silent as the final 10 minutes of regulation ticked away. Both sides, it seemed, were in shock at what the scoreboard read: Churchill 2, B-CC 0.
“That happened on our bench, too,” Churchill coach Haroot Hakopian said.
It's not that the Bulldogs didn't believe in their chances. In fact, they'd been looking forward to a rematch since playing their worst game of the season in a 4-1, regular-season loss to the Barons. But B-CC has been unbeatable in postseason for the better part of the past decade. Churchill's 2-0 win Tuesday marked the first time in six years that a Montgomery County team defeated the Barons in the postseason and just B-CC's second postseason loss at all during that time.
“B-CC was out there playing for its legacy,” Hakopian said. “I think it was shocking for everyone.”
Tuesday's game was of state-final caliber, but Churchill (12-3-1) will still need two additional wins just to get out of arguably the state's most competitive region. A new tournament structure divided the 4A West into two geographic regions, meaning the majority of the traditional county powers in the Bethesda/Potomac areas were lumped together. Churchill will face the top section's No. 2 seed, Walt Whitman, in Friday's Section I final. The Vikings won the teams' regular-season contest in overtime. The Section I winner will play the winner of the Section II final between Quince Orchard and Thomas S. Wootton next week.
“From the beginning, even before I joined the [Churchill] team, everyone knew B-CC was our biggest rival,” said Churchill junior leading scorer Sarah Johnston, who scored in the second half Tuesday. “From beating them in the regular season my freshman year and then them coming back and winning the region final, that was devastating. It's just the rivalry, we know we're always going to have to put in 110 percent every single time we play against them. They're so good, they can beat anyone.”
Unlike in the teams' previous match this fall, Churchill was the aggressor from the start Tuesday and B-CC (12-2-1) seemed uncharacteristically shaky. Churchill led 1-0 at halftime off junior forward Kate Reese's goal midway through the period but the Bulldogs were inches from a 3-0 lead.
B-CC sophomore goalie Naomi Gross made an incredible save on a shot that was shot down off the crossbar and nearly over the goal line shortly after Reese's score. Reese had the Barons' extremely stingy defense beat again in the final three minutes of the first half and with the goal completely empty and Gross off her mark, bent a 20-yard shot right at the frame. Just as the ball was about to roll in Barons junior defender Maia Emden came darting toward the left post and got a foot on it, deflecting the ball out.
“[Churchill] played great, give them all the credit,” B-CC coach Rob Kurtz said. “They came out and had a great game plan and executed. You can have a great season but when you get to playoffs it's can you play to win and not, not to lose. I think we played more not to lose tonight. I think [the girls] were thinking a little bit about what it would be like if we didn't win rather than taking care of business now. It's been an incredible run for us. I think a lot of these girls are lucky to think it just happens naturally and it doesn't.”
Churchill picked up right where it left off to start the second half, keeping pressure on B-CC. Johnston doubled the Bulldogs' lead five minutes into the second half on a 20-yard shot that ricocheted off the left post into the net.
Neither team had too many actual shots on goal but Churchill managed its time in the offensive third better than its opponent, which strayed from its typical possession style offense, Tuesday.
“These games, it's so important to take advantage of all the chances you have because you're not going to get a lot of chances,” Reese said. “[Scoring early] gave us an adrenaline rush but we knew it was nowhere near over, B-CC could easily come back. I believe we do have the skill to get out of the region but we just have to build off what we did in this game. We have to play a full game [against Whitman] and not make any mistakes. We're ready for some revenge after [they beat us in playoffs] last year.”
Winston Churchill 2, B-CC 0
Churchill (12-3-1) 1 1 — 2
B-CC (12-2-1) 0 0 — 0
Churchill — Kate Reese, Sarah Johnston