Two high school teams from our beloved, south-eastern nook of Chesterfield County advanced to the AAA division state championship Friday evening after losing in the final round of the Central Region tournament – the boys soccer team at Thomas Dale and Matoaca’s softball squad.
Thomas Dale, who came into Friday evening’s game undefeated on the season, held Deep Run scoreless until the last seven minutes of the first half when a Deep Run shot darted just passed the hands of a diving Thomas Dale goalie, sophomore Evan Fowler. And though Deep Run’s defense held their 1-0 lead for the rest of the game, Fowler redeemed himself in the second half, diving and blocking a well-kicked ball inches from the goal.
As Thomas Dale plays this week against the best high school teams in Virginia, Fowler’s older brother, senior-captain defender Griff Fowler, puts the loss behind him.
“... I’m very confident in our team, we have a good team,” he said. “We can’t be overconfident, every team is good. Everyone we’re up against is decent – everyone’s going to be a tidy team; so all we can do is our best and hope for the best.”
As for their father, the team’s head coach Mark Fowler, the state tournament is the main focal point.
“Tonight, I think it was a pretty even match; we lost one to nothing but I’m not upset with the boys,”
he said. “ I thought they gave everything … but you got to take your chances, and Deep Run did. They played some lovely [soccer] … and now we go to Tuesday night.”
Two weeks ago, Matoaca’s softball came into the Central District tournament as the No. 2 seed after being previously ranked ninth in the Times Dispatch Top Ten Polls. They fought their way to the finals, but came up short against first seeded and number-one ranked Thomas Dale.
Now, however, the lady Warriors have hustled their way through the regional tournament to the semifinal game last Friday against the Lee-Davis Confederates. The game remained scoreless until the fifth inning when Lee-Davis scored their first run on an RBI while the Warriors continued to struggle against Lee-Davis first team all-state pitcher junior Kelly Heinz, who went on to throw a perfect game. Well-placed hits and errors allowed the Confederates to push the lead to 6-0 and ultimately secure the win; Lee-Davis played exceptionally well,” said Matoaca’s principal Steve Cunningham. “… We’re very proud of our girls for making it this far.”
This year, Matoaca softball not only saw their first regional tournament but is also experiencing this week their first state tournament appearance in school history. Even after suffering a loss, the Warriors look ahead with hope. “We started down here,” said Matoaca head coach Scott Driskill as he put his hand about waist high. “And we got here,” motioning to the darkening ball field at Lee-Davis.