ALBANY -- There was hardly a dry eye on the Westover girls soccer team Friday night after the Region 1-AAA champion and No. 1 state seed Lady Patriots were stunned by No. 4 Mary Persons, 3-2, on penalty kicks in the first round of the GHSA Class AAA state tournament.
But you wouldn't know it from talking to Westover coach Terri Satterfield.
"I told them to lift their heads because they had no reason to be sad," she said. "I'm not upset one bit. Why? Because we had a great season -- and we have so much to be proud of."
Those feelings of pride should include the following:
***Winning the Region 1-AAA title for the first time since 2007.
***Reaching the state playoffs under a first-year coach who came to the rescue when it looked like the program wouldn't have a head coach at the start of the season.
**And lastly, putting Westover girls soccer back on the map.
Yet, even as upset as star Alison Burson was after the game, she couldn't hide her satisfaction with the season as a whole -- even if it did come to a premature end.
"It's a horrible, horrible way to lose," said the senior, who was anything but horrible in the goal for 80 minutes of regulation -- and then the five minutes of overtime -- during Friday's defensive battle that ended, 0-0, before going to sudden death. "In my career, I've never lost a game in PKs. But we went out, played our hardest, and while it sucks to lose like that, we can't be upset. We have a region title, we made it to state and all we accomplished (far surpassed) what we had ever thought we would when this season began."
Burson, who also plays sweeper when she's not in goal, actually nailed one of Westover's two successful PKs, while Maggie Satterfield, the coach's daughter, scored the other.
Although, Westover will likely look back on Friday with a lot of "What ifs" and "what could've beens" after the much quicker Lady Patriots squandered a number of chances to score during regulation.
"Oh my goodness," began Terri Satterfield, "we should've had six goals as many times as we were down there close."
You don't have to tell that to Mika Reid, a freshman who will have plenty of years left to avenge Friday's loss and take the program to new heights. But Reid was shut down time and again by Mary Persons' goalkeeper during breakaways, tight crosses and even a wide open shot or two.
Reid, along with Sarah Riggins -- who is one of four seniors on the team -- had their chances, but simply couldn't convert like they had been all season.
"It was an amazing defensive game by both teams," coach Satterfield said. "But we were not on our kicking game (Friday night). We win as a team and we
lose as one, and it's just unfortunate how it ended after we had so many opportunities."
Limiting Mary Persons' opportunities all night was another of the Lady Patriots' star seniors, Omolara Okediji, who played lock-down defense the entire game. Every time the Mary Persons offense looked like they were heading for a showdown with Burson in goal, there was Okediji, catching up from behind to steal the ball away or clear it out of danger.
"Isn't she phenomenal?" Satterfield asked the rhetorical question aloud about Okediji. "The whole defense was amazing, but her especially."
Burson had been lights-out in goal until the penalty kick portion of the game. But even then, she had to give credit to the Lady Patriots' opponent.
"They didn't trick me. It's just impossible to stop those shots some times," she said. "They had good velocity, good placement. I've won plenty of games in PKs before, it just stinks this had to be the one I lost."
Burson, the team leader all year, then paused and hesitated slightly before adding: "But I'm not upset. I'm really not. I'm actually happy (all things considered). Coach Satterfield promised us when she took over this year that we were going to win region and make state -- and we did. There really isn't too much to be upset about. It was a great season."