WAGS in focus: Sept. 18
The Washington Area Girls Soccer League fall season is in full swing as teams continue to do battle, aiming for the crowns in their respective divisions.
In some divisions, there are clear-cut favorites for the trophy, while in others, it appears that it may go down to the last day. Two teams that have stood out so far are the Lee-Mt. Vernon SC Patriots (Va.) in High School Division I, and the Herndon Freedom (also from Va.) Under-15 team, playing in Division I of their age group.
The Patriots have been simply dominant through two matches, winning their first game 6-2 over NVSC Jr. Majestics 94, then blanking FPYC Wildcats Blue 5-0 on Sunday. This Sunday, they will face Herndon Curve as they hold a two-point lead at the top of the standings, with a plus-9 goal differential.
“I’ve had them for four or five seasons now,” said coach Ahmad Sasso of his girls. “It helps when you have chemistry. There is more understanding.
“The first game we played, it was very easy…We were able to break [their defense] down easy, play into spaces and score goals.”
The second game, despite the result, was a bit closer.
“The 5-0 [match] was a little bit competitive, but again we showed resilience. I think we have a better team. The chemistry helps.”
The game was at 0-0 around 20 minutes in before the floodgates opened.
Moving forward, morale is as high as can be after the team’s strong start.
“So far, so good,” Sasso said. “I’m very optimistic…You never know what happens in soccer…It might be difficult for us to lose a game.”
Herndon Freedom have vaulted into U-15 Division 1′s overall points lead with seven points from three games, though FSC Xtreme sit one point behind with one game in hand.
Coached by Gustavo Donolo, the Herndon squad won 9-1 over ODFC Revolution on Saturday, September 8, then beat Md. Rush Nike ’97G 4-1 a day later. Last weekend, a 1-1 draw with CSC Patuxent Swarm gave the club the early lead in the division.
“The team is playing well,” Donolo said. “We use the WAGS season to prepare for the [U.S. Youth Soccer] National League, so we work on different lineups, playing different formations so the team is developing.”
The coach explained that his girls don’t just play to win in WAGS, but also craft their team for what is to come.
“It’s a team that has the opportunity to win a national championship,” the Argentina-born coach said. “That is our goal. We were close this [past] year, but we had one bad game. The team has a lot of potential. The girls work really hard. We practice three times a week, plus State Cup. We play five times a week.”
Emily Fox, though a year younger than most of her teammates, is the player that has carried the squad, producing goals and assists on a regular basis. A player with another gear and a nose for the ball, Donolo says that she stands out no matter what age group, even going against U-17 squads. Fox will likely be a big contributor moving forward as the team looks to build towards a national title.