By Tommy Keeler Jr.
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County came up on the short of a 3-2 non-district girls soccer loss to James Wood on Tuesday night, but the Wildcats had plenty to be happy about.
Despite battling some key injuries, the Wildcats battled the Colonels down to the wire.
"We played well," Warren County coach Mike Carpenter said. "It was a hard-fought game. The girls played their hearts out. We had a lot of players step up tonight."
Warren County's Kelsea Potts has been battling an ankle injury for the last two weeks, and so Carpenter elected to limit her playing time. The junior forward only played for the first part of the first half. Senior defender Tori Graham also suffered a knee injury, and Carpenter said he elected to keep her out the rest of the game as well.
The Wildcats struck first in the game, and took a 2-0 lead. Warren County senior Kayla Gibbons scored just five minutes into the game.
The Wildcats were able to put pressure on James Wood's defense, and Gibbons found herself in the right position to score.
"The ball got kicked into the box," Gibbons said. "I was able to get a body in front of it, and shoot it."
Just eight minutes later Gibbons scored again, this time on a rebound off of a missed shot.
"You just have to always put pressure on the goalie," Gibbons said. "It was the whole team. We all put pressure on the goalie, and I was able to follow it up."
The Colonels struck back one minute later as James Wood freshman Emily Denton scored from about 25 yards out to cut the lead to 2-1.
With around 14 minutes left in the first half, James Wood sophomore Alex Stanford drilled a ball into the right corner from about 20 yards away, to tie the game at 2-2.
Denton scored the game-winning goal in the final two minutes of the first half. She made a move on a couple Warren County defenders and then scored from around 10 yards out to give the Colonels the lead for good.
The second half was a defensive struggle. Both teams had a few chances, but couldn't convert.
"I thought our defense played pretty well in the second half, but I wasn't happy with how they played in the first half," James Wood coach Jim Carden said. "Warren County played well. They played a lot better than they did the last time we played them."
The Colonels beat the Wildcats, 7-2, earlier this season.
James Wood outshot Warren County, 18-9. James Wood goalkeeper Emily Woods-Hulse had seven saves for the Colonels (2-4).
James Wood starts six freshmen, and Carden said he's pleased with how things have gone so far this season.
"When you start six freshmen, they're going to make mistakes," Carden said. "We start our district season Thursday and we're going to have to play better."
Warren County goalkeeper Melissa Leonard had 15 saves.
The Wildcats (0-6) play at Skyline today at 5 p.m.
"I think we can do really if we can just stay healthy and keep working together," Gibbons said.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org