Tuscarora senior Zane Zyglowicz has struggled with injuries during his career, missing all of last season and part of this year with various ailments.
But he was healthy when the Huskies needed him most Friday. Zyglowicz scored three goals in opportunistic ways to lift Tuscarora to a 3-1 victory over visiting Broad Run in the Group 5A North Region championship game at Fortune Field in Leesburg.
Both teams advanced to the 5A state semifinals at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke next Friday (June 12). Tuscarora (14-5-1) will face 5A South Region runner-up Mills Godwin at 7 p.m., while Broad Run (13-5-1) will meet South Region champion Princess Anne at 5 p.m. The two winners advance to the state championship game, which will be played next Saturday (June 13) at James Robinson Secondary School in Burke at 2:30 p.m.
Zyglowicz opened the season as a defender, but he was moved to striker early in the campaign and entered the game as Tuscarora’s second-leading scorer behind fellow senior Justin Carey (15 goals). But Zyglowicz made the most of his opportunities Friday with his first hat trick of the season to increase his season total to 10 goals.
The first goal came in the 23rd minute. A long ball from the Huskies defense bounced high on the Broad Run side of the field as Zyglowicz and a Spartan defender pursued it. Broad Run senior goalkeeper Owen White came out and attempted to clear the ball approximately 30 yards off his line, but the ball hit Zyglowicz and caromed toward the Spartan goal. Zyglowicz sprinted past White and headed the ball into the empty net from eight yards out for a 1-0 lead.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of great chances, but we maximized the ones we had,” Tuscarora head coach Dave Gryder said. “We got a fortuitous bounce on the first goal, and that’s just effort getting to that ball and a lucky bounce going our way.”
“I’m proud of [Zane],” Gryder added. “He’s a senior and stepped up in a regional game, which is pretty impressive. He’s been really picking it up in the last couple of games. He has come back in the past three or four weeks with a renewed effort to score some quality goals for us. His hard work is paying off right now.”
Broad Run turned up the offensive pressure in the second half and had seven shots (the Spartans held a 12-6 advantage for the night) before Tuscarora could muster one. The shots included a diving header by senior Sean Gwatidzo in the 52nd minute that went wide of the left post, as well as a bouncing shot by junior Andrew Parr which Huskies freshman goalkeeper Alec Mingorance (four saves) had to leap and knock over the crossbar to save a goal in the 64th minute.
“I think you would have to say we had 70 percent of the possession, [but] we just didn’t execute in the attacking third,” Broad Run head coach Jon Hicks said. “We had two headers inside the six that we missed wide. We didn’t test the keeper enough.”
But Tuscarora was finally able to counter and Zyglowicz was the beneficiary of other Spartan miscues. He gathered a missed clear by a Broad Run defender near the middle of the penalty area in the 68th minute and sent a low shot inside the right post for a 2-0 Huskies lead. Two minutes later, sophomore Justin Gates sent a long ball through midfield that went under the foot of a Spartan defender toward the streaking Zyglowicz, who gathered it and sent a shot off White’s hands into the net to complete his hat trick.
“The second and third [goals] were key,” Gryder said. “You don’t have but so many chances against a quality team like Broad Run. You tuck them away when you really need it.”
“You got to give it to them,” Hicks said. “We knew what they were going to do, playing them for the fourth time now [Tuscarora holds a 3-1 edge]. They’re going to sit back and look for counters. That’s what they did and they executed. So congratulations to them.”
Despite the pressure from the Spartan offense, the Tuscarora defense of senior Calvin Witteveen, sophomores Terrell Howard and Noah Mazzatenta and freshman Jose Trejo did a solid job of shutting it down. Broad Run senior Abu Koroma, who entered the game with 25 goals this season, was limited to just one shot late in the game and the only Spartan goal came in the 75th minute as Gwatidzo scored off an assist by senior Karim Zebdi (his 20th of the season).
“We have four quality players back there,” Gryder said. “They are a determined group back there, well organized and don’t give many breaks. That’s a key to our team right now. They are the rock that survives us and keeps us in the games at this point. We were going against a kid who has scored 20-some goals and, not that we shut him down completely, but we made it a harder struggle for him to be a big impact player. That was a key to our game against them.”
Neither team is a stranger to playing in the state semifinals. Broad Run advances to that level for the fifth time under Hicks, and the Spartans will look to defend their 5A state title from last year if they can get past Princess Anne next Friday.
“It’s pretty amazing” to be back in the state semifinals, Hicks said, noting the Spartans lost 13 seniors from last year’s state title squad and had only three starters returning. “Tonight’s not the greatest night for us. We feel awful and we should. We didn’t execute.
“But at the end of the day, these guys are a very special group to me,” Hicks added. “I think we have a good chance. We played well, we just didn’t get the result. There’s four teams left and I think we are the best team. It’s just we have got to get the result.”
Tuscarora advances to the state semifinals for the third time in its five-year history after trips to the Group AA semis in 2012 and 2013. The Huskies lost to Jamestown in the 2012 final.
“Our seniors have been a part of the tradition and success, and they don’t want it to end,” Gryder said. “Who thought in February when [the field] was covered in snow that we would be here in the middle of June? That was our goal and we believed we could be, and they are almost there. We just need to keep the momentum.”