Falcons, Rams end in tie after late score

STRASBURG — As Central sophomore Sydney Crosser points out, every opportunity you get on the soccer pitch matters, no matter when it comes during a match. The Falcons missed several of those opportunities throughout Tuesday’s game against Strasburg, but with her team facing defeat at the hands of its county rivals, Crosser came through.

The sophomore scored her first goal of the season off a corner kick from teammate Ciara Philpott in the final seconds of regulation to even the score in a match that would eventually end in a 1-1 tie.

“We were just pushing and pushing and pushing,” Crosser said of Central’s frantic scramble for the match-tying goal over the last few minutes of the second half. “When you get a corner kick you’ve just got to take what you have. You have to capitalize on the opportunities you have and I think that’s what we just tried doing.”

Central (1-3-1) came up empty on several looks at the goal over the final five minutes as it ramped up its attacking pace with each passing minute, but the Falcons were afforded one final chance with about 10 seconds remaining when a ball off the foot of Jennifer Reynoso glanced off a Strasburg defender and skipped out of bounds across the goal line for a corner kick opportunity.

Philpott sent the ensuing corner kick on a line into the box and Crosser fired a shot from about five yards outside of the net. Crosser’s shot banged off the right post but rebounded right back to her foot, and Crosser tapped a second shot which hit the foot of Strasburg goal keeper Haley Bischoff — who had lunged to her left on Crosser’s initial shot attempt — and fell just beyond the goal line for the tying score.

“It scared me because at first I thought it was going in and then it hit the post,” Crosser said. “You’ve just got to try to finish it. Luckily I was there.”

Central’s corner kick and Crosser’s ensuing goal came moments after Strasburg’s players prematurely celebrated what would’ve been their first victory of the season after the head referee blew his whistle as the Falcons were scrambling to set up their corner kick. It turned out that the whistle was blown for an injury as Reynoso came up limping after her deflected pass went out of bounds.

“I think, unfortunately, the girls thought it was over so then in that quick corner kick … the girls need to quickly get back into that focus and I’m not sure that was there with confusion, in their minds, of what happened,” Rams coach Katherine Klus said.

Both teams had several offensive chances in overtime, but neither side managed to put the ball into the net.

Central held a 21-15 shot advantage in the match, although the Falcons were thwarted multiple times by Bischoff (10 saves) and Strasburg’s defensive back line, which was bolstered by the return of junior Sarah Peer from an injury.

Falcons coach Kim Dellinger said he was “disappointed” Central couldn’t put more than one shot into the net against the Rams.

“We had 20 shots on goal and I thought at some point we should be able to get something in,” Dellinger said. “Haley’s a very good keeper and we knew this going in. … I told them over and over and over you can’t take those shots outside. They’re more pushes to this keeper. Everything had to be inside and we just had difficulty getting it inside. They were swarming us whenever we got inside the 18.”

Though Central controlled possession for most of the first half, it was Strasburg (0-5-1) that scored the match’s first goal early in the second half.

Three minutes into the second half, Rams junior Holly Haley fielded a pass in the middle of the field from teammate Caitlin Hart and proceeded to dribble to the top of the penalty box before moving to her right. Haley then chipped an 18-yard shot over the head of Central keeper Vanessa Wheeler (six saves) and into the left side of the net.

Strasburg went on to control possession over the next 10 minutes before Central went back on the attack midway through the second half.

“We talked about keeping possession and making connecting passes,” Haley, who has scored both of Strasburg’s goals this season, said of the Rams’ halftime discussion.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com