To go to one state tournament in any sport is an accomplishment. Stringing two in a row is more difficult still.
But that pales in comparison to what the Albemarle girls soccer team has done — become a fixture in the state tournament.
Kora Jillions had two first-half goals, both off assists from Madeline St. Amand, and Albemarle’s defense clamped down as the Patriots upended Massaponax 3-0 in the Region 5D semifinals, earning their fourth-straight berth in the state tournament.
Albemarle wasted little time as in the first minute, St. Amand streaked down the left side and fed a wide-open Jillions for a 1-0 lead.
“It raises [our psyche]. It makes us so happy,” Jillions said of the fast start. “Everyone is more intense and so much more into the game.
In the 17th minute, the two linked up again in a remarkably similar play –again on a cross from the left.
Albemarle took that 2-0 lead into the break and got an own goal from Massaponax in the 62nd minute. But it was the Patriots defense that made perhaps the most significant statement — they limited the Panthers to just four shots on the evening.
“That was a good team we just beat,” Albemarle coach Amy Sherrill said. “Our defense stepped up. That’s one thing that we do have a ton of experience with–we were happy to hold their twin strikers at bay.”
The Patriots are backed by a group of seniors, several of whom have been with the varsity program since their freshman year. They will hold the distinction of having played in states every year of their careers.
“It’s the only thing they’ve ever known. They bring that experience to the state tournament,” Sherrill said. “They push others to be better.”
Albemarle will host Mountain View in the regional final Thursday evening before moving on to the state tournament.
Albemarle girls soccer’s Kora Jillions talks about the Patriots advancing to the state tournament for the fourth straight time with a 2-0 win in First Off the Field presented by @PT_acac pic.twitter.com/bDKajHuVHF
— scrimmageplay (@scrimmageplay) May 29, 2019