When Chantilly senior Laila Gray intercepted a sloppy pass near midfield and barreled toward the Westfield goal, it looked like the beginning of a long night for the visiting team. Gray calmly blasted her shot around Westfield keeper Maggie Barron to put the home side ahead 1-0 less than four minutes into the game. As the rain continued and the surface grew slicker, you got the feeling there were more goals to come.
Sure enough, three more goals were in store before the halftime whistle sounded. All three came from the visitors.
Westfield’s 5-3 victory over its crosstown rival on Monday night was a lesson in perseverance. Five minutes after Gray’s opening goal, freshman forward Jada Massey slipped behind the Chantilly defense to slot the tying shot into side netting. Chantilly came out angry in the second half and reignited the home crowd with a pair of goals in a two-minute span, the tying goal coming from Karina Castillo off a rainbow cross from Kayla Christian. But just 39 seconds later, junior forward Monica Horinko put Westfield back in front 4-3, followed five minutes later by another goal from Massey.
Westfield’s triumph was its first over Chantilly since 2011. The two-time defending Concorde District champs had beaten Westfield in six of their previous eight meetings, the most recent being a 2-1 win in last year’s district championship.
“You carry a chip on your shoulder having lost to them so many times,” said Westfield senior Brittany Fary, one of the few players on the team old enough to remember that 2011 win. “All the returning players came in this year knowing what happened in the district finals last year. This was our revenge.”
Monday’s win wasn’t just important from a revenge standpoint. Westfield (5-3-1) needed something to feel good about after dropping three of its past five contests, its most recent win coming on April 9. That’s a rough stretch for a team that got off to a 3-0 start, not to mention the undefeated regular season they enjoyed last year.
Still, recent stumbles haven’t much affected the Bulldogs. Close losses to Lake Braddock, West Springfield and Madison can’t touch their 3-0 conference record, nor can last week’s 1-1 tie with Woodson. A pair of wins against Robinson and Oakton this week would secure Westfield the top seed heading into the Conference 5 tournament.
“Some of the games that didn’t go our way, I think we kind of took those as learning lessons,” Westfield coach Kristi Williams said. “There are five games that really count in terms of what we ultimately want to have happen, which is position ourselves as best we can to make a run at the conference title.”
That conference title has been a long time coming for the girls’ soccer squad, one of five Westfield varsity teams still without a banner in the gym.
The departure of last year’s strong senior class figured to hurt Westfield on its quest for a long-awaited trophy, but the addition of four freshmen this year pointed to a promising future. Chief among those newbies is Massey, whose frightening speed up top has helped her record a team-high five goals so far this season.
“I came in not knowing anyone, so it was pretty hard getting used to the team,” Massey said. “But as we started building our confidence as a team, it got a lot better. Everybody has started playing like a team, which has really helped us.”
With the postseason peeking around the corner, the Bulldogs appear to have found the perfect time to harness their chemistry.
“We’re working as a collective unit,” said Fary, an East Carolina commit. “We’re not a bunch of individuals anymore — we’re becoming a team. I think we’re going to be a threat to the region in the coming tournament.”