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Rams hold on for win

By Jeremy Stafford - jstafford@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- Trotting off the pitch of Glenn Proctor Field at Ram Stadium on Tuesday, Strasburg sophomore Taylor Hill shivered from an adrenaline-fueled chill.

Throughout the previous 90 minutes -- comprising two 40-minute halves, followed by two five-minute overtime periods -- Hill and the Rams had tumbled into the lowest lows of their season, then soared into the highest highs of their season.

Hill was still coming down from the highest of those heights -- a 5-4 overtime win over Shenandoah County rival Stonewall Jackson.

"We knew they wanted us, and we wanted them," said Hill, bouncing between her left and right feet, still expelling leftover adrenaline. "I think we played a fantastic game -- we battled that out into the last 30 seconds."

It was during the first 30 seconds of overtime, though, that the match was decided.

Prowling at the top of the 18-yard mark, Strasburg junior Ann Keller whistled a shot through the brow of the goal.

Keller called it luck that the ball rolled to her feet. But in a game in which goals came about as frequently as an April rain, perhaps only good fortune could adequately separate winner from loser.

But then, perhaps it really did come down to Strasburg's superlative vivacity.

"It was just pure adrenaline," Keller said, bouncing in the same manner as Hill. "You just kinda have to go with it when you get those breakaways."

Keller's overtime score erased the letdown of a shot she sent too far left of an open goal in the 78th minute: "I was glad that I got it in so I could redeem myself," she said, "It was -- oh, it was great."

Hill painted Keller's goal with a bit more hyperbole.

"I was speechless," she said. "To have her have that kind of enthusiasm -- and that left-foot shot is amazing, and that goal was beautiful.

"I think it was just amazing, the team went wild."

Hill, too, did some erasing: Her four goals extinguished a two-goal deficit in the first half, then poured the Rams over the top with a two-goal advantage in the second half.

It was the first time in Hill's young career at Strasburg that the Rams have come back from a two-goal deficit.

The match marked several other season firsts: Generals freshman Taylor Koontz's score in the fifth minute was the first goal of her career, the first goal of Stonewall Jackson's season, and the first goal scored against the Rams this year.

But after waiting three games to finally net a score, then suddenly plastering the season's second, third and fourth goals inside of an 80-minute span, perhaps it was asking too much of Stonewall Jackson to score a fifth.

The Generals seemed to find a cozy home in the right corner of the pitch, where Koontz chased long through-balls from the Stonewall Jackson midfield. Strasburg junior Lindsey Rickard cleared enough of Koontz's chances to keep Stonewall Jackson from ever regaining a lead, but Koontz still managed a goal and an assist. Vanessa Cardoso scored two goals for the Generals, one off a penalty kick, to bring the Generals to within a goal of the Rams, and the other a header -- assisted by Koontz -- to tie the game in the 75th minute.

Stonewall Jackson keeper Rhea Jett had five saves; Strasburg goalies Tori Avvenire and Anna Sparacio combined for four saves.

"I think they came out wanting the game today, and I think they played a little more aggressive," said Strasburg coach Jonathan Dodd, comparing Stonewall Jackson's play Tuesday night to its play in a 1-0 loss to Strasburg two weeks ago. "We stepped up and played a more aggressive game as well.

"This is the most aggressive I've seen our girls play."


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