Loudoun County, VA (May 18, 2015) – Junior Alex Grace stole the ball with 21 seconds left, raced the length of the field and scored with four seconds to play in the game Saturday afternoon to lift Foxcroft to its second straight Division II championship with a pulsating 9-8 victory over DAC archrival Highland School.
The victory, played on the turf at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA, was Foxcroft’s fourth over Highland this season. Foxcroft also beat Highland by one goal to win the Delaney Athletic Conference title on May 8.
Trailing by four goals early in the second half, Foxcroft stormed back, outscoring Highland 4-0 – including two goals in a12-seconds span midway through the period, and tied the game at 8-8 on a goal by junior Malan J. with 3:10 left to play. Highland went into a deliberate offense in an effort to take the final shot, but Grace intercepted a Highland pass in front of Foxcroft’s goal and began her race to the the other end and a thrilling finish to the game that will live forever in Foxcroft sports history.
There were only 21 seconds showing on the clock when Grace, an All-State cross country runner and one of the fastest runners in the lacrosse tournament, took off from the Highland 12-yard line. She moved quickly to the 35-yard line then lost the ball momentarily. Grace moved a few steps, regained control of the ball at the 50-yard line and continued her assault on the goal.
Slipping between two defenders and eluding others, Grace came in hard on Highland goaltender Emma Walsh, who had been brilliant in goal all day. This time Alex was determined and beat Walsh with a shot into the upper right corner of the net to score the decisive goal.
“At halftime, we told them they had to win more draws, stop giving up penalties in front of Highland’s goal and shoot better,” Coach Patrick Finn said. “We did better with the first two but I’m not sure we shot better in the second half. On that goal, though, Alex did exactly what we had talked about, hitting the goalie’s vulnerable corner.”
Alex, the Player of the Year in last year’s state tournament when Foxcroft beat Norfolk Collegiate for its first ever athletic championship, finished with four goals Saturday.
Foxcroft’s defense shared in the victory with senior Tori Weber, junior Marisa Sander and freshman Mia Moseley repeatedly stopping Highland attacks. Junior goaltender Marias Blundell also came up with a pair of key saves late in the game. Highland did not score in the final 22:58 and had only one goal in the second half.
Before Blundell came up big, Foxcroft had struggled in the goal. Finn alternated Blundell with sophomore Marley Blycher, who started, after each goal against for most of the game, but neither could provide the steadiness needed until the end.
Foxcroft’s scoring two was largely stymied. In addition to its outstanding goaltending, Highland did a good job bottling up senior attack Emma Rogers. The senior , captain managed only one goal after scoring eight in Friday’s 13-12 semifinal victory over Virginia Episcopal School. Juniors Winnie Masson, Pipsy Steyn., and Malan Jackson, and freshman Pia Scharfenberg also scored once each.
After trailing 7-4 at halftime, Foxcroft gave up an early goal . With 18 minutes remaining, Foxcroft offense came alive, scoring three goals in a three-minute span to pull within one goal at 8-7. Grace and Scharfenberg tallied goals just 12 seconds apart to pull within one goal of Highland.
Neither team could muster a score over the next 12 minutes, but Malan finally tied it at 8-8 with a shot from in front of the net with 3:10 remaining to set up Alex’s heroic run.
“You know, we posted this quote about winning championship three days ago, “ said Finn. “Talent wins the first championship but character wins the second. In the end, we showed that character. We wanted the victory more than Highland and we got it.”