Central girls fall to Clarke

BERRYVILLE – Central played strong defensively for 71 minutes, but Clarke County’s relentless pressure would not be denied.

Clarke County scored two goals within a span of a minute to pull out a 2-0 victory over Central in the Conference 35 girls soccer tournament semifinals.

“We were just trying to play defensively until the last little bit and then try to steal the game with a little switch up in the lineup,” Central coach Kim Dellinger said. “They squirted one in a little bit earlier than I anticipated. Once we switched we got some offensive efforts, but they’re a good team you can’t take that away from them.”

Dellinger said he had a true sweeper back on defense to try to contain Clarke County’s Danielle Toone.

“She’s been burning us all season,” Dellinger said of Toone. “So we put (sweeper) back and that worked for the first 70 minutes of the game.”

Clarke County’s Hannah Ravenscroft gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead on an assist from Toone with about eight minutes left in the game.

Clarke County coach Larry Fox said he wasn’t surprised by Central’s game plan and knew that his team would just have to be patient.

“It was just a matter of sticking with our same game plan,” Fox said. “We moved a couple people just to try to make them think a little bit better, or think a little different. It was the same game plan that we’ve been playing for the last seven or eight games in a row. I figured it would just take time.”

Clarke County’s Sydney Staples scored less than a minute later on an assist by Emily David. Central goalkeeper Kendall Herbaugh made a save and the ball bounced around near the goal and Staples was able to stick it in the net.

Clarke County (15-3) dominated play in the first half as well. The Eagles controlled possession throughout, holding the Falcons to only one shot.

The Eagles had several opportunities to score, but couldn’t convert, including one shot that hit the right crossbar and bounced away.

“I told them at halftime, just be patient and try to get those goals off corner kicks and things like that,” Dellinger said. “We had three or four opportunities off corner kicks and it didn’t happen. The ball didn’t bounce our way.”

The Eagles, who have won nine games in a row, will play at George Mason on Thursday in the tourney final. The win over Central (9-8-1) also gives the Eagles a Region 2A East berth and they will play in the tournament quarterfinals on Monday.

“Our motto this year is ‘one step closer,'” Fox said. “… In order to get one step closer, we have to win the regional semifinal (and earn a state berth). I’m glad to get to the regional quarterfinals – at least we can continue.”

Dellinger, who was doused with water after the game by his team, said he was very happy with how his young team performed this year. Central has only three seniors this year. Last year the Falcons won only three games.

“I was very happy with the season itself. This season we finished higher than we have in several seasons. They’re glad to have a winning record,” Dellinger said. “… I think our team can compete with any of (the district). We showed tonight we can hold them down for 70 minutes.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com