Having enough talent wasn't a question back in March when the Yorktown Patriots began what would become their second state championship season in three years. There was scads of ability. Those unknown concerns regarded would the team mesh and find the proper manner in which to play together to best maximize those talents and effectiveness?
All of that was quickly answered when the style of play the girls soccer team chose resulted in victories over strong Chantilly and Oakton squads in its two preseason scrimmage matches. From there, Yorktown rolled to an unbeaten 24-0-1 season with 14 shutouts.
The campaign was capped when Yorktown won the Virginia High School League's Class 6 state tournament with a 3-0 record (three shutouts), including a 2-0 triumph in the June 8 championship game over the previously undefeated T.C. Williams Titans (22-1) at Hermitage High School in Henrico near Richmond.
Yorktown, which had an 8-0 playoff record, was ranked 16th nationally in week seven of USA Today's Super 25 spring soccer poll. T.C. was ranked 23rd.
Prior to the state tourney, Yorktown won Liberty District and 6D North Region tournament crowns.
"When this season started, I thought this was the best team I've ever coached," Yorktown coach Hannah Laman-Maharg said. "There was not a single gap or weakness, with strong players and depth at every position on offense and defense. Mostly, we had to figure out how to play together the best way for us and our ability. What we did in the state tournament, not allowing a goal and dominating good teams, proved that."
The Patriots netted 10 goals in the three state games.
In the state final against T.C., Yorktown outshot the Titans, 14-3, in the first half but did not score. In the second half, junior Lauren Flynn assisted Lacey McCormack on the two goals. Flynn dug the ball out of the deep corner, then when a defender fell, she passed to McCormack in the middle, who left-footed the ball into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
"I saw Lacey made a run to get open, then when the defender fell, it was easy to get her the ball," Flynn said.
The two teamed again five minutes later for the 2-0 lead, with McCormack scoring.
"We were attacking in the first half, but not finishing," Flynn said. "In the second half we did anything we could do to find the back of the net."
Flynn and McCormack each took seven shots in the state final. Both were members of Yorktown's 2017 state-championship team along with goalie Katie Belt and Cadyn Westhoff.
"I'm so excited," said McCormack, who will play soccer at the University of Virginia. "I never thought I would get to play in two state-championship games. This was a very competitive game against T.C. At halftime we talked about focusing and finishing our shots."
Added Belt, who had a couple of key first-half saves: "This is amazing. We were confident, but once we got that first goal, that really settled us down, then we got another."
Yorktown's defense is anchored by Belt and backs Katy Talotta, Georgia Beatty, Macy Monticello, Eliza Franklin and Nora Green Orset. Talotta was covering the much taller and top-scorer Caroline Bates in the state final. Belt and Laman-Maharg said she did more than hold her own.
"Katy was relentless on her and she wasn't intimidated by her size," Laman-Maharg said. "Our players on defense our rock stars. They do the job."
Maddie Winer took four shots against T.C., Westhoff took three and Beatty and Allie Strazzella two each.
On June 7 at Deep Run High, also near Richmond, in rainy and muddy field conditions, Yorktown blanked another previously undefeated team in the Kellam Knights, 4-0, in the VHSL semifinals. Kellam (20-1) entered the semi having allowed just five goals and no more than one in any game, and was ranked sixth by USA Today.
For Yorktown, McCormack scored three goals, two coming on headers off first-half corner kicks by Westhoff. McCormack's other goal, plus a fourth goal by Monticello, came on long shots. Belt made a handful of saves in goal.
"Kellam is a physical team and we took their momentum away and the wind out of their sails early with Lacey's two headers," Laman-Maharg said. "We kept possession and got them out of their rhythm. Our team has done well when we score early. Our defense played one of its best games."
In first-round of state tourney, Yorktown shut out South County, 4-0, as Flynn and Strazzella scored two goals each.
Flynn and McCormack scored more than 20 goals for Yorktown this season with Strazzella and Winer netting many goals as well.
"She is relentless, keeps flying around and doesn't quit," Laman-Maharg said about Flynn.
Yorktown's only blemish was a May 2 scoreless regular-season tie against its biggest rival Washington-Lee Generals in an all-Arlington match.
"That's such a tough rivalry and mental-thing game, because all of the players know each other so well and and play on the same club teams," Laman-Maharg said. "Both teams played well in that tie."
NOTES: Yorktown had an 8-0 playoff record with six shutouts, outscoring opponents 31-2 before the final. . . Yorktown never allowed more than one goal in any game this season.