George Washington's Taylor Ellis heads the ball to a teammate as Gabby Abad helps out.
Since moving to defense, George Washington's Taylor Ellis hasn't given her offense much thought.The junior found herself in position Saturday to give the Patriots some momentum after a scoreless first half and responded the way she used to, playing forward with a goal in a 2-0 victory over Capital in the Class AAA Region 3 Section 1 championship game. A crowd of about 120 attended the matchup of state-ranked teams at Andrew Jordon Field at the Trace Fork Soccer Complex.GW (16-4-1), which finished fifth in the final state coaches rankings, will take on No. 4 Princeton (17-1) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium in the Region 3 final with a state tournament berth on the line. The Tigers defeated a banged-up Patriots squad 2-0 in the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship game Oct. 6.All AAA regional games were originally scheduled for Thursday, but because of a scheduling conflict at Schoenbaum the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission allowed the GW-Princeton game to be moved to a different date.Ellis, GW's second-leading scorer with 12 goals, pushed up near the goal Saturday on senior Haley Claudio's corner kick. The ball bounced through the penalty box and Ellis was in front of the net and put a foot on the ball to get it past Capital senior keeper Michelle Newhouse, who had made several spectacular stops, for a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the second half."It was just at my foot and I kicked it between Michelle's legs and it went in,'' said Ellis. "When I scored I was so happy. I've been playing defense and that's really motivated me to try and score.''"We've changed some things around,'' added GW first-year coach Derek Ragle. "We shored up our back line and she's done a great job. She's one of our best goal scorers, but she made a sacrifice for the team and it's worked out for us. I'm proud of her.''Freshman Hannah Ellis, Taylor's younger sister, scored the first goal of her career with 27:24 left in the game to give the Patriots a 2-0 cushion. She dribbled to the right post then uncorked a shot past Newhouse, who has verbally committed to West Virginia University.GW controlled the entire game, allowing Capital only one shot on goal, which Patriots sophomore keeper Olivia Miller stopped.
"I think we played probably some of our best soccer all year,'' Ragle said. "[Capital has] a great keeper and she kept them in the game.''Newhouse finished with 12 saves for the Cougars (10-11-1)."The first half we kept it close,'' said Capital coach Riley Gibson, who lost two players to injury Saturday. "George Washington has a solid squad. We just didn't have the best of days."Injuries killed us. We had two or three that just got back here in the last two or three days. So hopefully we can rebuild. Three of my seniors are starters from the last four years and they're hard to replace. Capital will be on the rise in the next few years.''The Patriots also had four players leave Saturday's game with injuries."I hope it's just some nicks and bruises,'' said Ragle. "We're going to have to take Monday and Tuesday and rest up. We'll go with who we have Wednesday.''
Taylor Ellis said GW is prepared no matter what is thrown in its path."We're passing better, we're moving better and we're moving as a unit,'' she said. "We're doing great. I'm so proud of us.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.