T.C. Williams celebrate first ever Patriot conference title

T.C. Williams celebrate first ever Patriot conference title

By Chris Teale (Photo/Chris Teale)

Before the start of the season, the players and coaches on the T.C. Williams girls soccer team talked about wanting to make history. Never before had the program won a Patriot conference title — the sport’s banner in the gym is blank.

That all changed Friday night, as the Lady Titans secured their first Patriot crown in the sport with a 4-1 away win over W.T. Woodson, the No. 1 seed. T.C. entered the tournament with the No. 2 seed, having been defeated in regular-season conference play by the Cavaliers.

The Titans had to come from behind after they went down 1-0 late in the first half on a goal from Emily Wiggins. The visitors had several good chances in the first half and hit the bar twice, through Caroline Bates and Claire Constant.

After the break, the away side came roaring out and equalized less than three minutes after halftime. Bates sent in a cross from the right side that was not cleared, and Constant fired a scorcher from outside the penalty area that nestled into the top corner. It was just the start the Titans needed.

“Not only was it early, but it was a turning point for the game,” said T.C. head coach Ally Wagner. “I think it got everybody hyped, ready to go, right back on even playing grounds. That’s when we knew we could take it from there.”

From there, the Titans gathered momentum and took advantage with two goals in the span of just under eight minutes. Constant added a second with a calm finish, while Bates got herself on the scoresheet as she swept home from the back post after a Zoe Boocock free kick was deflected goalward by Titans forward Ava Hanson. The scoring was completed in the final seconds as Hanson headed the ball home to cap a memorable night for T.C.

Throughout the game, Bates and Hanson proved to be a valuable partnership up front as they caused the Woodson defenders endless problems. Both looked to cut in from wide positions and provide crosses to teammates arriving from deep positions, something Bates said they are both used to doing regularly.

“I think we play really well together,” she said. “We both will play outside or forward and we switch off, and we do really well connecting.”

That offensive fluidity has paid dividends for the Titans all season, as they have now scored 63 goals in 18 games. And while they failed to take advantage of a number of good chances in the first half, things clicked in the second period and the goals came.

“At the start of every game, it takes us a little bit to get into it, but I think we always find a way to get it to our forwards, play it back and move the ball,” Constant said. “We always get to goal and put it away eventually.”

The win improved the Titans’ overall record to 16-2, and in addition to securing the Patriot conference title, gained them a No. 1 seed in the Virginia High School League’s 6A North regional tournament.

T.C. began its campaign Tuesday at home against Chantilly after the Times’ print deadline, but Wagner and the players said they were confident of going even further.

“Even from the beginning of the season, our goal has been [the state championship],” Wagner said. “I know we can. I know we have the talent. I’m confident.”

“I’m shocked at how far we’ve come now, and I think if we all work together we can go as far as we want,” Constant said. “We just have to put our minds to it and work together.”