By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- It was a tale of two halves when Central hosted rival Strasburg in girls soccer action on Tuesday evening.
The Falcons saw themselves trailing 1-0 at halftime of the Senior Night showdown, only to dominate the second half of action en route to a 3-1 Bull Run District win over the Rams.
But it wasn't a fiery, inspirational pep talk from Central coach Hap Kwiatkowski that sent the Falcons into the last 40 minutes of action with newfound energy and confidence -- it was something much simpler.
"At halftime, we told jokes," Kwiatkowski said. "I said, 'Let's have fun out here, let's make the game more enjoyable.' They were too stressed out after [Strasburg] scored the first goal."
After the laughs subsided during the 10-minute intermission, Central quickly got down to business.
Central had fired and came up empty on 15 shots in the first half, but all it took was one shot in the second half to knot the score at 1-all as senior Katie Philpott connected with a 15-yard shot that snuck over the outstretched arms of Strasburg keeper Anna Sparacio in the 44th minute.
That got things rolling for Central (6-8-2, 4-8-2 Bull Run), which unleashed a quick series of attacks over the next five minutes, forcing Sparacio (13 saves) to make four saves during the span.
But the Falcons refused to let up and found the back of the net again when a corner kick by Allison Eye was headed in by senior Theresa Barela in the 54th minute.
"Headers are like my key thing," said Barela. "We've been practicing that so much. At the beginning of the season it wasn't falling. Finally, towards the end of the season these goals have been coming perfectly with the headers."
The Falcons put the game out of reach when a shot by Anne Jadot was deflected by Sparacio, but the ball rolled straight to Philpott, who punched it into the back of the net to give Central a 3-1 lead with just more than nine minutes remaining.
"I think the first half, we were a little bit frantic," Philpott said. "I was just really happy with the way we played the second half because we were controlling the game. I realized that as soon as we got one or two goals, they were going to start coming a lot easier."
Strasburg (2-14, 1-13) opened the evening's scoring when senior Taylor Hill beat Central keeper Carlie Pool to the ball on a cross pass by Rams junior Wendy Diaz-Sosa in the penalty box, and Hill put the ball into the open goal in the 14th minute.
But the Rams struggled mightily in the second half to generate any kind of offensive attack as they managed just one shot on goal in the final 40 minutes of play. Strasburg was outshot 28-7 for the game.
"I've known Central to have an excellent second half, that's just something we know about them," said Rams coach Katherine Klus. "That goal in the first five minutes [of the second half] is always dangerous. I don't think that it necessarily got the girls down, but it naturally makes them nervous.
"But overall, I'm still proud of them."