By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Friday's girls soccer showdown between host Strasburg and Central played out exactly as any good rivalry game should -- plenty of back-and-forth action with a late-match goal to decide the final outcome in the closing minutes.
Fortunately for the Falcons, the goal that came in the final four minutes of action off the foot of sophomore Anne Jadot, propelling Central to a 3-2 win over the Rams and giving the Falcons their first victory since March 23.
"We finally got our chemistry down, which was a big thing because that's something we've struggled with throughout the season," said Falcons senior Katie Philpott. "We played well as a team. I think from here on out things are going to be different."
Things weren't so bright for Central (3-5-1, 1-5-1 Bull Run) in the match's first 40 minutes of action as the Falcons peppered the goal with shot after shot, but could not quite seem to send the ball into the back of the net.
Strasburg (2-7, 1-6) goalkeeper Anna Sparacio proved to be a tough obstacle to the Falcons' attacks as the junior tallied eight saves in the half and 12 for the game. Central outshot the Rams, 27-9, for the game.
While the Falcons were consistently putting good shots on goal, the Rams struggled to muster much of an offensive attack as Strasburg didn't tally its first shot until the 31st minute.
Despite the limited offensive opportunities, the Rams took a 1-0 lead into halftime when Taylor Hill gathered a cross pass by teammate Mary McCarter before sending it into the net from 10 yards out as time expired in the half.
"This game is the best game this season the girls have played," said Rams coach Katherine Klus. "The girls always put some extra energy into this game because of the fun rivalry. Because I felt like the girls were playing better than they had been, the halftime was positive energy."
Although the goal at the end of the first half was a major blow, Central bounced back by answering quickly in the second half when Philpott finally found an opening against Sparacio with a 10-yard shot that tied the game at 1-all in the 43rd minute.
"That was what we needed because once we got that, we realized that [the goals] are going to come, it's just a matter of time," Philpott said. "If that goal hadn't come that soon [in the second half], then maybe our momentum wouldn't have changed so soon. Then it could have been a different game."
Central continued to attack the goal for the next several minutes, but Strasburg was once again able to turn the tables with some crisp passing from McCarter.
McCarter gathered the ball near midfield before firing a through pass to Hill, who chased the ball down before dribbling to within striking distance.
Hill then sent a 15-yard shot into the left side of the net to give the Rams a 2-1 lead in the 51st minute.
"[We had] some excellent offensive plays and offensive attacks," Klus said. "[McCarter] has normally played on our defensive line, and the past couple games, just to get some more spark on the field, I moved her to center-mid. I think you saw much more out of everyone with her there."
But Central's offensive attacks never ceased, and the Falcons continued firing until senior Theresa Barela chased down a Central free kick and converted a 15-yard shot to tie the game at 2-all in the 61st minute.
Both teams tried desperately to break the 2-all tie as the final minutes ticked away, but it was the Falcons who finally did so in the 77th minute when Philpott passed the ball ahead to the speedy Jadot, who outran the Rams' defense before sinking a 10-yard shot to set the final margin.
While the Falcons struggled throughout the match to finish their offensive attacks, Central coach Hap Kwiatkowski credited his defense as the biggest key to Friday's victory.
"Probably the biggest thing was that we corrected some of our mistakes defensively," said Kwiatkowski. "They worked better in the second half. I think our defense played really well. We played defense as a team, and not as individuals."