OAK HILL — Moving up a classification did not faze the Oak Hill girls soccer team.
The top-seeded Red Devils scored an early goal and went on to beat Princeton 2-0 at Oak Hill High School in the Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 championship on Thursday, Oct. 22.
"This was our first year moving up to AAA, so we had a lot to prove," said Oak Hill head coach Savanna Babcock.
The Red Devils were dominant in the first half, having opportunity after opportunity and squashing chances for the Tigers to seize momentum for themselves.
Samiah Lynch scored what turned out to the game-winning goal in the 14th minute of the game when she picked up the ball outside the area and fired a shot into the corner of the net.
"That goal was huge and it was an epic goal, too, from our center mid Samiah Lynch," Babcock said.
Oak Hill had eight shots in the first half and a number of other promising opportunities where last-ditch defending by Princeton prevented a goal.
The defense for Princeton kept repelling chance after chance and forced Oak Hill to work hard to get the ball into the box. A few times the Red Devils managed to get a pass across the front of the goal but there was nobody there to finish.
"Our defense played phenomenal, that's what kept us in it," said Princeton head coach Michelle Dye.
All night long the aim of the Princeton attack was to kick long balls past the defense and have the strikers run onto them. Those passes were cut out by the Oak Hill defense, which focused on getting to the ball first and clearing it to the center midfielders, who could start an attack.
"Going into the game we knew Princeton had had an emotional, tough game against Woodrow so we knew they were going to come out strong tonight with a lot of heart. I told the girls we've got the skills but we cannot let them out hustle us," Babcock said.
The Tigers picked it up in the second half after being held without a shot in the opening 40 minutes. They were able to find space on the edges of the defense and had four shots for the game, three on target, as the game picked up its pace.
Oak Hill wrapped up scoring in the 78th minute when forward Kiya Babkirk was able to score from a tight angle, confounding Princeton's physical defensive effort.
The season comes to an end for Princeton, which graduates four players from its roster. Oak Hill advanced to the regional game.
"We've made it to regionals the past three seasons but it's always a huge deal," Babcock said.
Oak Hill fell to George Washington, 8-0, in Tuesday's region title outing.