Heritage High School (March 19, 2015) — The final throes of this chilly, damp winter hung heavily in the evening air – but it might as well have been springtime in Leesburg, as the Heritage Pride played host to baseball, softball and girls’ soccer action.
Softball: Heritage 7, Potomac Falls 6 (8 innings)
It was a blackout when the black-and-red of the Pride (1-1) battled the black-and-purple of the Panthers (0-1), inning after tense inning.
Potomac Falls came back first, scoring two in the top of the fifth to take a 6-5 lead. The Panthers’ defense then kicked in, preventing small threats from becoming big ones in the Pride’s halves of the fifth and sixth. Centerfielder Ashley Vayo turned in a sliding snag to quell one potential rally.
Down to Heritage’s last out, the Pride’s Amy Zebrowski slammed a double to deep left-center. She was pushed to third on Kelsea Champ’s infield single, and came home on a wild pitch to deadlock the matter at 6-6.
The score remained so for another inning. Then Haile Giannini, a fourth-inning replacement, rolled one through the right side of the infield to bring Emily McCarty home with the win-clinching run.
“Tonight was perfect proof of what total team effort is,” said Heritage’s second-year head coach John Dugger, who employed all 14 players in the victory. “Our bottom of the lineup got us back into it in the seventh, and our top of the lineup won it in the eighth.”
Assistant coach Courtney Aubel concurred with Dugger’s team-effort motif.
“Teamwork really was what it was all about tonight,” she said. “Getting the hits, making the plays, the intensity, they just brought it together.”
Baseball: Potomac Falls 3, Heritage 2 (8 innings)
The Panthers (2-0) were up 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth when the Pride (0-2) equalized. In the top of the sixth, Potomac Falls pushed over the go-ahead, but Heritage knotted it again in their next ups.
The seventh went scorelessly but eventfully. Heritage’s infield defense cut down a Panther trying to sneak home on a grounder to third. Then Potomac Falls’ outfield defense turned a bases-loaded, one-out line drive to center into a double play.
In the visitors’ half of the first inning beyond the regulation seven, Charlie Curtis poked a one-out double. He was still on second with two outs when Jordan Brown singled him home for what proved to be the difference.
The game’s final out was a spectacular full-speed backhanded grab of a deep drive to left-center, hauled in by the very fast sophomore centerfielder Justin Robles.
Brown and Nick Sweger clubbed two hits apiece to lead the Panthers, with Brown delivering a pair of RBIs. Brian Hopkins picked up the win with three innings of relief. Heritage’s junior right-hander Brent Smith was solid in the strike zone despite absorbing the loss.
Ben Taylor doubled, singled and walked in the Pride’s offensive effort. Heritage’s first two contests of the new campaign have been low-scoring affairs in which they came up a single run short.
Potomac Falls’ esteemed head coach Joe Terango – the only man to lead the Panthers’ baseball program in its 18-year history – was complimentary of both clubs in the aftermath of the well-played ballgame.
“Coach Price has his team prepared. They were a formidable foe tonight. I want to give their team credit. They came out and fought a good fight tonight,” said Terango. Price is Heritage’s 10-year head coach Ryan Price, who played for Terango as a Panther.
“Going along with that,” Terango continued, “I’d like to congratulate our boys also, for never giving up, never folding, and we ended up pulling one out.”
Girls’ soccer: Heritage 6, Rock Ridge 0
Thanks to a goal each from the sister act of Christina and Cori Carlston, the Pride (1-1) got themselves up 2-0 at the half. The freshman keeper for the Phoenix (1-1), Caleigh Schmid, turned in some outstanding first-half saves, keeping the Pride momentarily at bay.
But halfway through the second half, the dam broke and the deluge began. McKenna DeMonte pounded it in off a rebound, and sophomore Cori (big sis’s junior by two years) scored 90 seconds later.
Junior midfielder Amanda Philip bombed one in from 25 yards out for Heritage’s fifth goal, and Kathryn Counts – on the first time she touched the ball all game – applied the finishing touch, assisted by Philip.
The Pride’s rookie coach is Holly King, one of the all-time greats to wear a Broad Run soccer uniform. She’s assisted by Valerie Powell, likewise a prominent player in the Spartans’ soccer history, and likewise in her first year of coaching.
King starred at the University of Florida before taking a shot at the professional ranks, getting into 14 matches with the Washington Spirit. Powell took her talents to the University of Arkansas.
“I knew I wanted to coach, but I didn’t know if there was anything available,” said King, who attended an information fair for new teachers at which she learned of the Heritage opportunity.
Athletic director Ron Petrella contacted King, interviewed her and offered her the job, King said. Now she, like friend and assistant Powell, is a newly minted elementary school teacher in Loudoun – plus they find themselves in charge of a varsity sports program.
The two ex-Spartans talked about the culture they want to institute as leaders of Heritage’s program.
“We were like sisters at Broad Run. We did everything together, even the seniors with the freshmen. We had pre-game meals at Panera, we did buddy-bags, we had sleepovers, we made t-shirts together, everything,” Powell said.
“A lot of that showed on the field with our chemistry, because we were that close. We want to start doing that here.”
Girls’ soccer, junior varsity: Heritage 8, Rock Ridge 0
The Pride’s other girls’ soccer team opened its season with a romp over the Phoenix. Freshman Melody Champ authored a pair of goals as Heritage’s defense and two goalkeepers – one per half – kept a clean sheet.
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Written by Jason S. Rufner
Special to Viva Loudoun