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Falcons, Panthers battle to scoreless tie

By Jeff Nations

WOODSTOCK -- The pressure was sporadic at best in Thursday's Bull Run District girls soccer matchup between Rappahannock County and host Central.

The final score reflects as much, a scoreless tie that not even a 10-minute overtime period could budge.

That doesn't mean there weren't standout performances, though -- on Thursday, it was the Falcons' back line that got to shine. With Rappahannock County (5-7-2, 3-6-2 Bull Run) applying most of what pressure there was in a fairly even game, it was up to Central's final line of defense to keep the Panthers off goalkeeper WillaClare Franklin.

Rappahannock County still outshot the Falcons, 12-7, but had numerous other promising attacks scuttled before they truly turned dangerous.

"My defense came up big," Kwiakowski said. "Lexi Funkhouser had an outstanding game for us."

Funkhouser and fellow center back Kinsey Wilk frustrated the Panthers in front of the goal, and outside backs Nicole Baker and Courtney Copp did the same on the outside. Copp even forced the Panthers to shift Keelee Armor to the outside to counter her damaging runs up the sideline.

The Panthers' best chances in the first half came on free kicks by NCAA Division I recruit Michelle White, who boomed two long attempts that Franklin plucked out of the air.

Central countered with a couple solid opportunities by Allison Eye, but Panthers goalkeeper Jane Purnell handled them both to keep the game scoreless.

In the second half, Rappahannock County held Central shotless, but only managed four attempts against the Falcons. Franklin only had to save one as the game fizzled into a midfield battle. Already dinged up, the Panthers got more bad news when Armor was injured with just more than four minutes to play.

"We were missing a starting midfielder the first time we played them, and we were missing a midfielder this time, too, and we lost a good forward [Armor]," Rich Hogan said. "So injuries have plagued us."

Central won that first overtime matchup, 2-0, but could muster little until the second five-minute overtime period. The Falcons' Hannah Stephens hit a slicing shot on goal, but Purnell grabbed it for the save.

That was about it for scoring chances.

"We need to learn to send the ball diagonally a little bit better," Kwiakowski said. "We were playing too many straight balls on straight runs. I think if we do that, our game will improve."

Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or jnations@nvdaily.com>


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