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Falcons trying to overcome injuries late in season

Lauren Cook

Central’s girls soccer team has had to battle plenty of adversity this season.

The Falcons have not only played a tough schedule, but they have had to deal with numerous injuries to key players. Central coach Kim Dellinger said the injuries had given other players a chance to step up.

“I think a lot of the younger players have stepped up and they’ve played very well,” Dellinger said. “They have to get on the field at some point anyway. So it was a good experience for them, and it helps them work with some of the older players and some of the more experienced players a little bit better. And hopefully, it will make us a little bit deeper team throughout the postseason.”

Dellinger said that last week in a 1-0 loss to 10-time defending state champion George Mason, the Falcons were without four starters – Lauren Cook, Valeria Galmiche-DeDios, Karla Rodriguez and Bailey Gale. All four are seniors, and all but Cook were out due to concussions.

Cook, one of Central’s leading scorers, has been battling a hamstring injury throughout the season and has been in and out of the lineup each week.

Ciara Philpott Rich Cooley/Daily

“It’s been hard because I don’t feel like I can really play my best right now,” Cook said. “But I’m doing the best I can.”

Cook didn’t start against Strasburg in Tuesday’s regular-season finale but she did come off the bench and had an assist. The game was halted with 12 minutes left in the first half due to lightning. The game was completed on Wednesday, with the Falcons winning 4-2.

The Falcons (9-7, 5-5 Bull Run) have struggled at times offensively this season. Central senior forward Ciara Philpott, who had two goals against the Rams on Tuesday, said the team is starting to do a better job of taking advantage of scoring opportunities.

“I think our finishing has gotten better because I remember in the beginning we had possession a lot and we could just not get the goal in the back of the net,” Philpott said. “I think that we have started capitalizing on these opportunities a lot more, which I think is really big.”

One steady, strong point for the Falcons has been the play of their defense. Central has only allowed four goals or more three times this season.

Kendall Herbaugh

Central junior goalkeeper Kendall Herbaugh said that she feels confident in the defense in front of her.

“We’ve kind of bonded together,” she said. “We’ve got that trust in each other like I trust them, and they trust me. I know they’ve got my back and they know I got theirs. So I think we’re just finally coming together as a whole unit on defense.”

The Falcons will be the fourth seed in next week’s Bull Run District tournament and will host fifth-seeded Altavista in the quarterfinals on Monday.

Philpott said that she feels like the Falcons are ready to be at their best in the postseason.

“I am really excited,” she said. “It kind of feels like everything we’ve been working on this year has just been leading up to this. And all these games – we’ve won some, we’ve lost some – but it’s time to really get our heads in the game and start making it happen.”