The Salem High girls saw their soccer season come to an end with a 3-1 loss to Jefferson Forest in Forest on Tuesday. The game was a Region 4D semifinal, with the winner clinching a spot in the state tournament.
Salem and Jefferson Forest played in the state title game last year and had two of the best teams in the state once again. However, Region 4D seeds the tournament by record, regardless of strength of schedule, and Salem ended up fourth in the region after playing a very difficult schedule. Jefferson Forest was first, Blacksburg was second and Bassett was third.
“We should have been one and two,” said Salem coach Josh Jones. “We beat Blacksburg twice, and they beat Bassett 6-0 on Tuesday. We get penalized for playing a tough schedule, but I’d rather play those teams to get ready for the post-season. Sooner or later we would have had to beat Jefferson Forest anyway.”
The Cavaliers led 1-0 at the half and that was how it stood with less than 20 minutes remaining in regulation. However, Salem tied it up at around the 15 minute mark when Lily Barnes scored off an assist from Abby Mason.
The tie was short-lived. Just 52 seconds later Forest answered without giving the Spartans a chance to possess the ball. Jones brought some defenders up to try and tie it and the Cavs scored a late goal for the 3-1 final.
“We had a chance to win,” said Jones.
The Cavaliers outshot Salem 12-9, one of the few times the Spartans have been outshot. The loss snapped an 11 game winning streak by the Spartans, who had not been scored upon in six straight games before Tuesday.
“I thought we were playing our best soccer of the season coming into this game,” said Jones.
The loss left Salem at 15-4-1 for the season. The Spartans beat Liberty Christian Academy in the opening round of the regional last Saturday, 2-0, as Barnes and Sarah Mowbray scored, both assisted by Mason.
Salem will graduate nine seniors off this year’s team.
“They played in the state championship the last two years, and as freshmen they lost to the team that won the state championship,” said Jones. “Who knows, this year they may have lost to the state champion again. It’s been a great group.”