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By Jeremy Stafford - email@example.com
STRASBURG -- Emily Tiemeyer didn't think her shot was going in.
She was standing too far out, and she'd taken it with her left foot. Standing near the far touchline, she faced the goal at a steep angle.
Tiemeyer figured her shot would sail too high.
So the Strasburg sophomore was understandably surprised and delighted to see her shot slip under the crossbar. Her jubilation swelled when the ball softly rippled the back of the net.
The goal was the second of Tiemeyer's career, and the lone score in Wednesday night's game. With it, Strasburg earned a 1-0 victory over Shenandoah County rival Central.
"It just feels really good to say that I scored a winning goal," Tiemeyer said.
After Tiemeyer scored, the fans at Ram Stadium became jazzed with electricity. Until that point, Strasburg had spent 54 minutes waiting for one of its scoring chances to convert.
When it finally happened, Tiemeyer was mobbed. Strasburg midfielder Kirsten Campbell wrapped her arms around Tiemeyer. Ann Keller offered congratulations, too. Tiemeyer stood still and simply marveled.
Strasburg coach Jonathan Dodd marveled, too: The Rams showed real poise on Wednesday.
Not 50 minutes before Tiemeyer's goal, senior midfielder Kaitlin Carter stumbled out of bounds and lay still. The knee brace on her leg was removed. The initial fear was that she had re-torn her anterior cruciate ligament.
Carter was carted off the field, and the unofficial diagnosis was somewhat comforting: Maybe she popped some scar tissue, maybe she strained her medial collateral ligament.
Dodd worried about how Strasburg would respond. So did Campbell.
It wasn't too long ago that Strasburg, up 4-2 on Central, lost its poise, floundered in the heavy emotion of a passionate moment, and suffered a 5-4 loss in overtime.
"At the beginning of the game, when that happened, I was very, very scared," Campbell said of Carter's injury. "I know that a lot of other people were, but we had to tell ourselves to calm down and kind of get over the fact that she was going to be out.
"We were scared, but I think we settled down and pulled through well."
When play resumed, Central forward Abby Schechtel bolted through midfield and into the Falcons' offensive third. With the ball at her feet, she had only Rams keeper Anna Sparacio in front of her. Schechtel's shot was strong and hard, and Sparacio caught it.
It only took another two minutes for Strasburg to find its legs. Rams forward Taylor Hill worked the right flank. Campbell soared through the middle. Keller worked the flank opposite Hill.
Central didn't immediately muster much of a rebuttal.
"Kaitlin's a key part of our offense and defense," Dodd said. "Having her go out, I wasn't sure how the rest of the team would react, whether they would shy back or not, but they did pretty well."
Strasburg took a total 12 shots, and Central had 11. Keller and Samantha Pence each took three shots for Strasburg. Hill and Campbell each took two. Tiemeyer took just her one shot.
By the 62nd minute, Central coach Hap Kwiatkowski pushed his more technical players up in the formation. Theresa Barela moved from outside back to midfield. Katie Bennett, who had spent most of the game playing deep at center back, found herself swimming through Central's offensive third.
"We're experimenting, getting ready for districts -- I want to try different people at different positions," Kwiatkowski said. "I learned a lot of good stuff, and I thought the girls played well."
The readjustment produced a flurry of late Central attacks: Bennett and Katie Philpott linked up in front of the Strasburg goal, and Campbell cleared it out. Philpott had another open look in the 68th minute, but was soon met by Strasburg backs Lindsey Rickard and Savannah Hall.
From the right flank, Barela sent a rocket far post, and Sparacio tipped it away. With seconds remaining, Philpott launched a screamer from 30 yards out, and Sparacio caught it.
The whistle sounded, and Strasburg, only in its fourth year as a program, earned its second consecutive win.
"Strasburg's program is very young, and we're building our consistency very quickly," Campbell said. "It's good to know that we don't have to rely on one or two players, we have the whole team.
"It reminds the town that ... we are good, and we have purple pride."