Falcons, Wildcats fight to draw in girls soccer

WOODSTOCK – Central girls soccer coach Kim Dellinger considers the Falcons’ defense to be the strength of the team this season. Warren County has been particularly stingy along the back line itself over the last three games.

When the two teams met Thursday night at Central, goals were at a premium. The Falcons and the Wildcats each scored goals in the first half of the Bull Run District contest, but the defenses would combine for 58 straight minutes of scoreless action from there as the two teams ended in a 1-1 draw.

For the Wildcats (3-1-2, 2-1-2 Bull Run), it marked the fewest goals they’ve scored in six matches this season and ended their five-game winning streak over Central.

“I am very proud of our defense tonight,” Dellinger said. “I think all the girls played very well. Obviously, yes, they have good forwards and strikers. … There were some breakdowns here and there and luckily we didn’t get scored on when we did it. And obviously (goalkeeper) Kendall (Herbaugh) played phenomenally tonight.”

Central’s (3-3-1, 1-3-1) defense – led by a back line consisting of seniors Theresa Smith, Jasmine Cardoso, junior Lisedt Reynoso and sophomore Karla Rodriguez – limited Warren County to 10 shot attempts, while Herbaugh, a freshman, notched five saves.

“Our defense really dominates on the field,” Herbaugh said. “I’m glad to know they have my back when I’m out there. Our defense is so strong and literally it’s hard for anyone to score.”

Herbaugh – much like her Warren County counterpart, Hannah Pack, who thwarted Central’s attack with 13 saves – was aggressive in goal all night for the Falcons, as she repeatedly charged from her position in goal to scoop up Warren County’s passes into the box. She took a physical beating as a result, even getting kicked in the head as she fell on a ball near the goal line late in the first half.

“It was physical,” said Herbaugh, who made a diving save near the left post on Shauna Sayers’ shot with six minutes left in regulation to preserve the tie. “Anyone was trying to score so as long as the ball was loose they were kicking it.”

The Falcons’ defense did suffer one breakdown, however, as Smith tried to clear the ball following a direct kick but instead sent the ball to a wide open Nina Petitt along the sideline, who then sent a cross into the box to set up Lisette Moya’s goal in the 27th minute.

“Both times we played them last year they played us pretty tough,” Wildcats coach Mike Carpenter said. “I guess we’re just evenly matched teams. … Both teams had opportunities, you know, and both (are) pretty good defenses and pretty good goalkeepers … so I knew it was gonna be a low-scoring game.”

Central came back five minutes later with its only goal, as Ciara Philpott drew Pack from the net on a breakaway, opening a clear shot for Sydney Crosser after she gathered the ball following a collision in the middle of the penalty box. Crosser converted to tie the match at 1-1 with 8:42 left in the first half.

“I felt like we were fortunate at that point because I didn’t feel like we played a strong first half,” Dellinger said. “I thought the first half we were playing very sloppy and as the half went on we got a little bit better, a little bit better. Even into the two overtimes I felt that we controlled the ball for most of those two overtimes (and) I thought we were gonna get something in there and we couldn’t make it happen.”

Warren County’s defense did well to limit the Falcons’ scoring opportunities following Crosser’s goal. Central did fire 18 shots in the match, but rarely did they come with enough force to get past Pack, who snatched up eight saves in the second half, including three in a three-minute span as Central chipped shots from 20-plus yards.

The Wildcats’ back line – which included starters Katelyn Thompson, Katherin Coffron, Rachel Liebl and Kaley Foulks – coaxed Central into seven offside penalties and repeatedly cleared away the Falcons’ long ball attempts to their forwards.

“We really try and hold that so Hannah doesn’t have to worry about it,” Foulks said of the Wildcats’ defense. “We try to play as physical on the back line without being dirty.

“It’s hard to defend overhead balls because you have to have one person coming back. But what you really have to do is just stick to your man – man-tight, man-tight. You have to have a system to help back.”

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