Falcons edge Rams to advance to Conference 35 semis

Central's Hannah Dellinger, center, leads a foot race with Strasburg's Rachel Palmer, left, and Karly Colcombe, right, during Conference 35 girls soccer tournament semifinals held Monday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Central High School’s girls soccer team had no shortage of opportunities to score against visiting Strasburg on Monday night in the quarterfinal round of the Conference 35 tournament. But the Falcons needed a fortunate bounce to edge past their county rivals and keep their season alive.

Central senior Sydney Crosser found the ball at her feet after a scramble in a crowded penalty box following a corner kick in the 50th minute and scored the lone goal of the match as the Falcons picked up a 1-0 win. The victory advances No. 2 Central to Tuesday’s tournament semifinal game against third-seeded Madison County, while Strasburg, the seventh seed, saw its season come to an end.

Monday’s match marked the second 1-0 win for the Falcons (11-4-2) over Strasburg (3-13-1) this season. The two teams also tied 2-2 last Wednesday.

“I feel really good about the win but I’m disappointed because we have so many opportunities and we don’t capitalize on them,” said Central head coach Kim Dellinger, whose team fired 16 shots in the win. “Of all the teams we were gonna draw, I didn’t wanna draw them for the first game because they always play us very, very hard. And I don’t know if it’s because of the rivalry or what it is, but they play us very hard. Maybe it’s just matchups.”

The match’s lone scoring sequence was set up when Strasburg senior keeper Haley Bischoff made a diving save to swat the ball away on a one-on-one opportunity against Central’s Hannah Dellinger, leading to a corner kick for the Falcons.

Strasburg's Karly Colcombe heads the ball as Central's Lauren Cook looks on during Conference 35 girls soccer tournament semifinals held Monday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Following Ciara Philpott’s corner kick, the ball changed directions multiple times in the 18-yard box as Falcons and Rams took turns getting a touch on the ball. Central junior Paige Wilson got the touch the Falcons needed and poked the ball to Crosser in the middle of the box, and the senior fired a shot out of the crowd, over Bischoff’s head and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the second half.

“I’d been shaky all night. It’s been sort of nerve-wracking and so when the ball was there I just tried to get a foot on it,” Crosser said.

“The ball came across and it was just jumbled around. We have someone in the back to sort of sweep everything in if it bounces out, and luckily Paige was there and it came right to me and I just tried to chip it over.”

That was all the damage the Falcons would muster against Bischoff, who finished her final high school soccer match with 11 saves.

“I think in every game we’ve played them, just about every game we’ve scored on corner kicks. And it’s because that ball’s coming in the middle, it’s a dirty ball already and (Bischoff) gets anything that’s coming straight on the goal,” said Kim Dellinger, who added that he’d like to see his team execute better in working the ball from the outside in on crossing passes.

Central's Ciara Philpott gets off a quick kick as Strasburg's Ashleigh Hockman steps in to defend during Conference 35 girls soccer tournament semifinals held Monday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

“A lot of times we work on trying to get those crosses out to the six or 12 (yard mark), that way somebody’s got an angle for a straight-on shot. Today we were just putting them right to Haley every time on those crosses tight to the goal.”

Strasburg, which mustered just one shot on goal in the first half, couldn’t maintain possession long enough to generate a counter in the second half against a Central back line that included starting defenders Karla Rodriguez, Lisedt Reynoso, Summer Sypolt and Wilson. The Rams finished the night with four shots, all of which were stopped by Falcons sophomore goalkeeper Kendall Herbaugh.

“There was some things that we talked about during halftime,” Rams head coach Katherine Klus said, “just basics of any time that we were sending the ball forward it was going straight into their sweeper. We talked about their tactical decision-making during halftime and I think they adjusted well in the second half to that.

“I felt like second half we were getting up into the final third and staying up in the final third more versus the first half.”

Central, which fired eight shots in each half, came up empty in the first 40 minutes despite earning five corner kicks. Bischoff had four saves in the first half to help Strasburg’s defense thwart the Falcons, including a leaping save with 12 minutes left in the half as she punched away Philpott’s chip shot from 25 yards out.

Central's Bianca Hernandez makes a quick kick while Strasburg's Debra Dillman runs downfield during Conference 35 girls soccer tournament semifinals held Monday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Klus praised the performances of Bischoff and junior defender Aaliyah Atchariyakornchai after the match.

“(Bischoff has been) a leader on this team all season long. And you could hear her tonight motivating the girls from the back and calling out their placement on the field,” Klus said.

“(Atchariyakornchai) has some speed that just comes out of nowhere at times, and her power and strength – both her and (fellow defender) Karly Colcombe have improved tremendously this season and have really focused on the position of the back line and really grew in their leadership roles.”

Central, which hosts Madison County in the semifinal as part of a doubleheader with the Falcons’ boys team, beat the Mountaineers twice during the regular season, both times in overtime.

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

Strasburg's Hanah Peer controls the ball while Central's Paige Wilson defends during Conference 35 girls soccer tournament semifinals held Monday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily