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By Shaun Broy - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Central girls soccer coach Hap Kwiatkowski told his team at halftime they were going to score two goals in the second half to win the game. And thanks to the foot of sophomore Katie Bennett, he was exactly right as the Falcons topped the Generals 2-0 on Wednesday night.
"I told them at halftime that we were going to score two goals," Kwiatkowski said. "If I could only predict the stock market like that, I'd be rich."
There were two very different girls soccer teams that stepped on to Falcon Field on Wednesday. The two teams' styles of play couldn't have been more of a contrast, but for the first 60 minutes it was anyone's game.
The Falcons (8-1-1 overall, 7-1-1 Shenandoah District) were the faster, more agile team that passed the ball with intention. Central tied together a consistent, textbook-like triangular passing game, using the entire width of the field to its advantage.
The Generals (3-5-2 overall, 3-2-1 Shenandoah District) were the stronger, more aggressive and physical team that plowed their path towards the goal when they went on attack -- until they hit rock. Stonewall plowed into a rock-solid Falcons defense that couldn't be cracked.
The two teams were scoreless at the half, both unable to capitalize on opportunities to get on the scoreboard.
The Falcons' best opportunity to put the ball in the net came in the 36th minute of play, when a foul was called on Stonewall for a hand-ball in the box. Central was awarded a penalty kick and junior Katie Philpott stepped up to the line, but her shot was smothered by the Generals goalkeeper Rhea Jett and unsuccessful.
The Falcons kept the pressure on Jett all night, and as time went on the Falcons' shots on goal began to steadily increase. Then, in the 61st minute of play, Annie Jadot took possession of the ball for Central and raced up the far left flank of the field. The freshman delivered a perfectly timed cross to the foot of Bennett, who sent a bullet of a shot from 10 yards out into the back of the net.
Then, as Kwiatkowski predicted, Central scored its second goal on the night with eight minutes remaining in the game, when Bennett took possession of the ball inside the 18 and nailed it into the bottom left corner of the net.
"We had in our mind that we were going to play our game," Bennett said. "The last time we played them it was a different story.
"I just want to help the team in any way possible and It feels great to be able to win it for our team."
The Falcons outshot the Generals 16-7 on the night.
The Generals hope to take what they learned Wednesday and get more of their players back on the field in time to make some noise in the district tournament.
"We're short-handed with numerous injuries," Generals coach Chris Livesay said. "I am so proud of them because they gave it everything they had tonight. We knew it was going to be a big challenge tonight, considering everything. We have to take the next four days to heal."
The Falcons have four games remaining in the regular season and they control their own destiny, with a possible Shenandoah District championship within their reach.
"We're taking it one game at a time right now," Kwiatkowski said.