Danville (15-3-1) learned its lesson in a regular-season loss to Somerset (16-4-1), when it lost a two-goal lead and lost the game, and the players said they reminded each other of it after building their lead in the rematch.
"They were all thinking it," Danville coach Michael Lauer said. "I didn't need to say anything.
"I think one thing we've done in the district and region is we've gotten leads and we've continued to play at a high level."
Hosting sub-sectional game Saturday
Now Danville is on its way to the next level of the state playoffs, the round of 16. The Admirals will host a sub-sectional game at 1 p.m. Saturday against the winner of tonight's 16th Region final between North Laurel and South Laurel.
"We're one of the best teams in the state," Danville freshman Molly Pittman said. "It's great to know that."
Pittman scored both goals for Danville, which was a regional runner-up in 2000 and 2001.
"It's not only special in the fact that it's the first time, but it's an incredible athletic feat," Lauer said. "We've played four games in six days, and we've basically played four of our best games of the year."
That, the players said, is the result of work that began in the spring.
"I remember back in April in weightlifting thinking, 'This is the year. We're going to do it this year," sophomore Caroline Crowley said. "We've been working since April. We conditioned all the time, even between games, but it's so worth it."
The Admirals' regional run culminated when they avenged their 5-4 loss to Somerset in an All "A" Classic regional game last month. They led 3-1 in that game before losing in a shootout.
"I think the biggest thing we needed to do was try to correct the mistakes from last time," freshman Tasha Milby said. "We were ready for them. We knew when we got up they could come back."
When Danville took its 2-0 lead to the locker room at halftime, Lauer said he told his team, "We've got a 2-0 lead. Do I have to say anything else?" and he said the answer was a resounding "No!"
"We knew we had to come out with the same intensity in the second half that we started the first half with," Lauer said.
Pair of goals by Pittman
Pittman helped build that lead with a pair of goals. She first scored from close range 8 minutes, 57 seconds into the game after Somerset goalkeeper K.K. Stonecypher couldn't clutch McKenzie McAfee's shot from the left side, and she followed that with 25:25 left in the half when she dribbled through two defenders and fired a shot past Stonecypher from about 6 yards out.
"We just wanted to get the lead so we could hold it," Pittman said. "We left Somerset rushing to try to make plays."
On the other end of the field, Ruth said the two goals took much of the pressure off her and the Danville defenders.
"I can't score goals, so I'm rooting for the midfielders and the forwards," she said. "That took a lot of weight off my shoulders, and the defense held it together."
Ruth made five saves, but Danville outshot Somerset 16-8 and allowed the Lady Jumpers (16-4-1) very few good looks at the goal.
"We've got seven players on the team who are dangerous at scoring goals, and our defense, the shutouts speak for themselves," Lauer said.
"We didn't have any one star player," Crowley said. "We have 11."
Now they are looking forward to the next challenge Saturday.
"I think we're confident, but we're not overconfident," Crowley said. "All the teams we play will be good. They've all done the same things we did to get there."
The all-15th Region Tournament team, as selected by participating coaches:
Ashley Ballard, Marion County; Caroline Crowley, Danville; Jenny Jones, Lincoln County; Sarah Lange, Somerset; Hannah Martin, Danville; Tasha Milby, Danville; Molly Pittman, Danville; Megan Pitts, Lincoln County; K.K. Stonecypher, Somerset; Laura Swencki, Marion County; Erin Walker, Somerset.