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Brentsville dominates possession but Enos’ hat trick leads to Fauquier girls soccer win

Friday, Apr. 11 | By Jeff Malmgren
Brentsville's Julia Hannon (left) and Fauquier's Megan Enos go flying through the air after inadvertently tripping each other while sprinting after a ball during the Falcons' 4-1 Friday night in Nokesvile. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
There’s no easy way to remove a tire from a speeding Bugatti.

It’s like trying to take a soccer ball off the foot of Megan Enos.

The Brentsville Tigers discovered that similarity Friday. Enos used incredible quickness and a surprisingly strong frame to score three goals and assist another during her Fauquier Falcons’ 4-1 victory over Brentsville on the road in Nokesville.

“It’s great having her,” Fauquier senior goalkeeper Caroline Liebel said of Enos. “She’s like a bullet, and she’s so strong even though she’s not the biggest player on the field.”

Despite standing a slender 5-foot-6, Enos won nearly every ball that entered her radius. Not only could Enos out-run every player on the field to track down a ball, she also used her body incredibly well to position herself between the ball and an opposing player on 50/50 plays. And once possessed by Enos, the ball rarely left her foot for anything other than a shot or pass.

“A lot of players will allow a defender to run them off the ball,” said Falcons coach Rick Ashley, whose team has a 3-4 record. “She just [battles] right back.

“She’s just got that determination,” he said. “She can run with a defender on her shoulder for 30 or 40 yards and not get pushed off the ball, and still find a way to finish.”

Enos did just that to complete her hat trick against Brentsville (2-4). With 5 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the second half, she corralled the ball on a miss-touch at midfield and sprinted 50 yards with it while rubbing shoulders with a defender. The junior striker eventually separated from that defender enough to get off a shot that nestled into the back of the net.

“Not only is she fast, but she can read the game very well,” Tigers coach Sean Weddel said. “She’s just intelligent.”

Enos’ talent is no secret. She made an Olympic Development Program region team earlier this year and played in Costa Rica. She also made an ODP region team last year, but didn’t get to travel abroad due to a broken collarbone.

Even before getting national attention, though, the Falcons knew Enos was special.

“I noticed how good she was the first day of tryouts her freshman year,” Liebel said. “We all did. Just during passing drills, we were like, ‘OK, she’s going to be good.’”

On Friday, Enos didn’t need her speed to give Fauquier a 3-0 lead early in the second half. Junior striker Cassidy Wagoner centered a ball to Enos, who settled the ball, spun to her right around a defender and fired a hard shot into the right corner of the net.

Earlier, with 3:26 remaining in the first half, Enos ran down a ball along the right sideline and sped around a defender on the edge to get a good look at the goal. Brentsville keeper Abby Ferson got a hand on Enos’ right-to-left shot, but the ball had enough speed to power through to the back of the net.

“When I got the ball, I knew I always had one person” to beat, Enos said of her scoring opportunities. “So I just wanted to get that one touch around them and then it was pretty much just me and the keeper.”

Fauquier, however, didn’t score its first goal until only 6:42 remained in the first half. Enos tracked down a through ball by Megan Dietrich, cut inside a defender and eventually got the ball to Emelie Boucher, who scored from about 15 yards out.

That goal gave Fauquier a 1-0 lead only because Liebel had consistently rebuffed a Brentsville team that dominated possession during the first half.

“We could have been down 2-0 in the first 20 minutes,” Ashley said. “But Caroline stepped up big. And our back line absorbed a lot of pressure. … It was huge.”

Liebel had nine saves in the first half as the Tigers amassed 17 shots (nine on goal) and created plenty of other scoring opportunities.

“She’s just a beast,” Enos said after a game played in a light rain much of the second half.

Liebel finished with 14 saves, including a kick-save early in the second half with Fauquier leading only 2-0. She shifted right on the wet grass in reaction to a Brentsville shot and had to stick her left leg in the opposite direction to reject the ball.

“Luckily I have OK foot skills since I play in the midfield as well,” she said.

Liebel needed all extremities against Brentsville because the Tigers controlled the midfield and possessed the ball incredibly well. As a result, they finished with 27 shots (15 on goal) to Fauquier’s 12 (nine).

“Fortunately, our defense is strong and, obviously, Caroline is strong in goal,” Ashley said. “So we can absorb pressure to some degree.”

Brentsville scored its only goal with 25:01 remaining in the second half when Maddie Stanley centered a ball to Skylar Dowell, who converted from about 15 yards out.

“I know that I can save it most of the time,” Liebel said of shots she’s faced. “Her goal was gorgeous.”

The Tigers couldn’t get another ball past Liebel, though.

“But tonight was actually one of the best games that we’ve played,” Weddel said of all the scoring opportunities. “So, yes, it was frustrating, but also it was very rewarding. … We have a very young team.”

With Brentsville dominating possession, Ashley tweaked the Falcons’ typical 4-4-2 formation. He dropped Wagoner closer to the midfield so the formation instead resembled a 4-5-1 look with Enos alone at the top.

“If we’re not possessing the ball and it’s in our defending half, I feel like I need to get an extra player back knowing that I have Megan up there as the outlet and the target player,” he said. “She’s fantastic. Obviously, without that threat, this is a totally different game.”

Fauquier played without starting midfielder Mia Barreda, but the Falcons have struggled to maintain long possessions in other games this season. Ashley pointed to a lack of practice on an outdoor field due to poor weather.

“We just haven’t really been able to get out and work on our possession game,” he said. “There’s only so much you can do in a gym.”

Fauquier has shown some potential, though, with an impressive 1-0 win over Kettle Run on April 8 and a Conference 22 victory against Chancellor, 2-1, March 21. The Falcons have lost twice, however, against Courtland – 4-0 and 4-1 – another conference foe.

“Courtland was fast,” the speedy Enos said.

“We’ve got to elevate our game before we get to the conference tournament,” Ashley said. “Our goal is to get to the regional tournament.”

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