By Jerry Holsworth - email@example.com
STRASBURG -- Clarke County's girls soccer match with Strasburg on Friday was a case of two very different halves. The Eagles dominated play through the first 40 minutes, outscoring the Rams 7-0.
The second half, however, was different. Strasburg matched Clarke County with one goal each, ending the game 8-1.
"I thought our team played well," Eagles coach Terry Ellis said. "We just fell asleep a little in the second half. We had five players miss the game because of a school event. We played the second half with just 12 girls. In the long run that's a good thing to get everyone out there. But I think fatigue was a factor too."
It took Clarke County just four minutes to put the first goal on the scoreboard. Georgie Thomas blasted the ball past Rams goalkeeper Anna Sparacio from 10 yards out to put Clarke County up 1-0.
Almost the entire first half was played deep in Strasburg's end of the field, and with 26 minutes left in the half, that proved to be fatal for the Rams. The Eagles scored a flurry of goals over the next four minutes to put the game out of reach.
Molly Devereux got things started with a five-yard shot that increased Clarke County's lead to 2-0. One minute later, Aubrey Fletcher hammered home a shot from left wing that proved to be the first of four goals for the Clarke County freshman.
Fletcher scored again three minutes later to put Clarke County up 4-0.
Despite the flood of goals, Sparacio had a good night or things could have been much worse. The Strasburg freshman faced 25 first-half shots by the Eagles, and made seven saves.
"They are really a tough team," Sparacio said. "I thought that we were a little dazzled by them early in the game. It was really tough after they scored all of those goals. I just had to stay focused and concentrate on the game."
With 10 minutes to play, the Eagles struck again. This time it was Sarah Alger who got the goal after a cross from Fletcher.
Fletcher scored again with 7:30 left, completing a first-half hat trick.
"That was exciting," Fletcher said. "We were getting the ball past their defense consistently. We also were having a lot of success finishing. We worked hard to get good shots."
Devereux finished the Eagles scoring for the half with a shot from eight yards out.
"I thought going up against a team like Clarke County was going to be tough for our girls," Rams coach Jonathan Dodd said. "When you know going into a game that you're facing a team like them it can have an effect on your confidence. Once we realized that we could do some things against them, things changed. I thought we played a much better second half."
The Eagles scored quickly to begin the second half. Fletcher got her fourth goal with 34 minutes left in the game on an eight-yard shot.
That, however, was the end of Clarke County's dominance. The Rams tightened up their defense after that, and held the Eagles to just 12 more shots and no goals.
Sapracio was again a key to Strasburg's defensive success, making seven difficult saves in the second half.
With 20 minutes to play the Rams finally got an opening on offense and made it count. Lindsey Rickard found an open Taylor Hill racing for the Eagles goal and hit her with a perfect pass. Hill did the rest, scoring the final goal of the game from 20 yards out.
I really thought Sparacio had a great game," Dodd said. "Most of their goals were the kind that almost no goalkeeper is going to save. One thing that I'm really proud of is that our girls never quit. That last goal was a testament to that."