ALL-ZONE GIRLS FOOTBALL: Kertgate provided Colonial Forge with purpose and leadership | High school

By MELANIE MARTINEZ–LOPEZ THE FREE LANCE–STAR

Having to miss a few games after testing positive for COVID didn’t worry Ava Kergate.

She knew her Colonial Forge teammates would step up and beat Brooke Point and continue to the Commonwealth District Tournament Finals.

Long before the Eagles got far in the tournaments, first-year coach Brian Foley knew Kergate would be a force to be reckoned with. He had heard of her when he was a coach at Patriot High School.

“When I came in, (Kergate) was someone I knew from playing against her at my previous school and how talented she was in the area,” Foley said.

A striker’s job is to score goals and create chances for his teammates. As a junior, Kergate racked up 35 goals and 13 assists, earning her All-Area Women’s Soccer Player of the Year.

“It’s a big number, at the start of the season I talked about a number with my coach,” she said. “His target for me was 40. To be so close to that number by the end of the season is definitely a great feeling. … I’m definitely surprised but I feel very accomplished and proud of myself.

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Kergate has also proven herself to be a leader on and off the court, helping her teammates and supporting every opportunity they have had to become better players and people.

“After all the hard work of my teammates, giving me the ball, doing their job and I loved being part of that last and last play which ultimately wins us the game,” Kergate said.

During the District Tournament, Kergate tested positive for COVID and was unable to advance to the District Semi-Final against Brooke Point. Kergate explained how the experience also taught him to value every game and every goal because the pandemic is still an issue.

“Of course I was upset, but I had great faith in my team and what they were going to do,” she said.

Although she wasn’t physically present at the game, Foley said Kergate’s presence was still there, even though she was monitoring FaceTime.

“She was in constant contact with me and her team. She was always asking ‘how can I help?’ “said Foley. “She always coordinated things for the seniors and in the background to be a leader and help out in different ways.”

Kergate led the Eagles to an unbeaten record in the regular season, but the Eagles fell 2–1 to Massaponax in the Commonwealth District Tournament Final and 2–0 to Patriot in the Region 6B quarterfinals to finish 15 –2–1.

“When you talk about progression, you saw her learning to adapt to new people she was playing with, especially with a new coach, new environment, new roster and so on,” Foley said.

Despite the final results, Kergate is now looking forward to his final year in preparation for his transition to Radford University’s playing college. Foley said she is key to making the team culture even more positive and successful and her goals are to build relationships early with incoming freshmen and returning freshmen.

“I go into next season with the drive and motivation to beat my totals this year. I don’t know if that will happen, but I will definitely work on it,” said Kertgate, who also plays for FC Barcelona. Stafford and the Virginia Developmental Academy “Not just for me, but also for my team.”

Melanie Martinez–Lopez: 540/374-5440

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