Falcons break through for first win of season

By Jeff Nations

STRASBURG — The wait has been long, even longer than Central High School girls soccer coach Hap Kwiatkowski might have imagined as his Falcons came up short time after time this season.

Twelve times, the Falcons found themselves on the short side of the scoreboard. Host Strasburg aimed to make it 13 times on Friday night, but Central was tried of waiting for that first win. From the start, the Falcons showed every intention of ending their winless skid, that’s precisely what they did by dominating possession throughout in a 3-0 victory.

Central (1-12 overall and Bull Run District) dictated the pressure from the start, and nine minutes into the game the Falcons broke through for what turned out to be the game-winning goal. Sophomore midfielder Theresa Smith, who poked through balls into Strasburg’s penalty area all night long, sent a diagonal through ball to striker Courtney Copp. On the run, Copp collected the ball for a one-on-one chance against Rams goalkeeper Haley Bischoff. Copp won the battle, sending a hard shot past the keeper into the center of the net.

It was the first goal of the season for Copp, and just the second in the junior’s varsity career. The first goal came during Copp’s freshman season.

“This one is definitely the biggest,” Copp said.

The Falcons kept up the pressure and created a handful of great chances over the first 40 minutes, with rising shots by Emma Selby and Copp hitting the crossbar and caroming away.

Central outshot the Ram 8-2 in the first half. Strasburg coach Katherine Klus could tell her team wasn’t mentally into the game. The Rams were coming off a huge 5-4 win against Warren County on Tuesday, and playing in neon-green jerseys and socks as part of special mental health awareness game.

“We just played Warren County and won, and the girls played hard and deserved that win,” Klus said. “Today, the girls just looked flat. I could see it even in the warm-up.”

Central kept right on pushing forward in the second half, and Selby finally broke through for a goal of her own with 28:38 to go after coming up short twice on great attempts in the first half. Central’s Jenny Philpott sent a through ball into the penalty area and Selby beat two Strasburg defenders to the ball. Bischoff charged to smother the run, but Selby flicked a crossing shot into the left corner that sailed on through a hole in the net — it still counted.

“We’ve been working hard on our offense in practice,” Selby said. “Tonight we were making runs and crashing the net.”

Less than two minutes after Selby’s goal, the Falcons struck again. Selby returned the favor to Philpott, feeding her teammate a cross at the top of the penalty box. Philpott did the rest, turning to snap off a blast that sent the ball into the upper right corner of the net.

“We’ve been working on finishing in practice, which has helped a lot,” Kwiatkowski said. “We’ve also been working with the girls on long drive balls.”

Strasburg (2-11 overall and district) finally managed a bit of pressure of the final 12 minutes, but by then the deficit was too much to overcome. Central outshot the Rams, 17-7.

“They played hard, on an individual level,” Klus said. “But it wasn’t efficient. We had no sense of possession.”

Bischoff finished with eight saves for Strasburg. Falcons keeper Gladys Galmiche DeDios finished with three saves, all in the second half.

“We’ve been stressing to them to just win the little battles on the field,” Kwiatkowski said. “I’m just shocked — the seniors have been 150 percent into it and have been buying into it all season long.”

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