By Jeff Nations
STRASBURG -- It was all sunshine and rainbows for Strasburg senior soccer girls player Kirsten Campbell on Wednesday against Manassas Park.
OK, that's not entirely true -- Campbell and the Rams did have to endure a fairly drenching rain shower for part of the first half. But hey -- into every life a little rain must fall, right? And if you scored four goals in a badly-needed 5-0 victory on your home field, would you let a little rain dampen the mood? Didn't think so.
Campbell tallied the hat trick -- plus one -- with a career-high scoring splurge that helped the Rams net their second victory of the season.
"Half the time, I just waited in the box and they gave me a perfect pass," Campbell said. "Everyone was really on top of their game. You can't win by yourself. Your team has to work it up the field, you have to work with each other and you really have to get it through the defense and execute."
Campbell didn't seem awed by her own night, here's a possible reason -- playing as a seventh-grader in an all-star game for recreational soccer, she once scored eight goals in one game.
"It wasn't a very strong team we were going against," Campbell said of that personal record.
Manassas Park (0-9-1, 0-7-1 Bull Run District) has had its own struggles this season. The Rams' lone win this year came against these same Cougars on April 2, giving Strasburg added confidence. Campbell said Rams coach Katherine Klus shifted several players to different positions to "freshen up" her squad for the second half of the season, and the result was a sharp display of passing and cohesion.
"The girls were really able to connect today, very strong, especially coming off the road from yesterday playing William Monroe [an 8-0 loss]," Klus said. "Their passes were strong, connecting, they were really making combination plays today and worked well as a team."
Campbell got the scoring started eight minutes in by connecting on a rising kick that sailed under the crossbar for a goal. Junior Danielle Fincham notched the assist with her crossing pass to Campbell to the center of the penalty area. It was the first of three assists for Fincham and came with the rain still falling. It eventually stopped, giving way to that impressive rainbow and moments of sunshine.
"We were just more focused on our give-and-go passes and just looking for each other," Fincham said. "The field didn't really matter as much as just looking across the field and finding each other."
Strasburg's Holly Haley put her team up 2-0 by collecting a cross from Fincham and hitting a chip shot that sailed over Cougars goalkeeper Abby Sowalla for another goal with 14:40 to play in the first half.
Fincham got her third, and probably most impressive, assist later in the first half when she won control and headed the ball on a perfect diagonal to Haley's foot. Haley immediately crossed to the waiting Campbell, who finished with a shot into the right upper corner.
The Cougars' best scoring chance came in stoppage time in the first half, when Ari Winske shook loose for a run in the box and snapped off a curving shot that Rams goalkeeper Anna Sparacio (three saves) corralled with a diving stop.
Campbell nearly notched her third goal with 22:56 to play in the second half, but her penalty kick missed high.
She made up for it four minutes later, gathering in a pass from Sarah Peer for a run in the box that ended with yet another goal.
Campbell wasn't quite through -- after receiving a crossing feed from Emily Tiemyer at the top of the penalty box, Campbell unloaded on another riser that sailed into the net.
It was an impressive night for the Rams, whose record (2-7-1, 2-7 Bull Run) reflects a lack of success.
"There are some games where we've made some silly mistakes, but we try to correct those," Campbell said. "We don't dwell on the past. We look to the future."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>