Emma Butler (11) leads the charge for the James River girls at a recent game. Photo by Jim Devinney

The James River girls saw their soccer season come to an end one win away from a trip to the Group 2A state tournament. The girls lost to Graham, 1-0, in the Region 2A West semifinal at the Smith River Complex in Martinsville last week.

“The girls left everything on the field and had nothing to be ashamed of at the end of an epic struggle,” said coach Bill Smith. “They outplayed Graham during much of the game, both offensively and defensively, but still came up short.”

The first half was a scoreless, evenly matched battle with solid attacking runs made on both ends of the field. With 29 minutes left in the second half, a frenzied mass of players from both teams came together on a Graham corner kick that bounced around the goal box, and eventually into the net. Despite the Knights putting everyone forward in a series of increasingly risky attacks for the next half hour, this would prove to be the only goal of the match.

James River keeper Colleen Peery had six saves on the night as well as a number of key plays outside of her penalty area, containing breakaways with her feet. Graham keeper Christina Mounzer logged 20 saves on a busy night.

The Knights finished with a record of 12-8 for the season. They’ll graduate seven seniors; Blair Grim, Kaitlyn Johnson, Kendra Peery, Sarah Harris, Sadie Jones, Taylore Sydnor and Emily Bryan.

“The team will come back together in February 2018 and we anticipate another exciting season,” said Smith.