Rams showing steady improvement this season
STRASBURG – Strasburg’s girls soccer team may not be earning a lot of wins this season, but there’s no doubt they are earning respect.
The Rams (2-13-1, 1-9 Bull Run) have struggled for victories for a number of years, but this season they have put up a strong fight against all of the teams in the Bull Run District.
“The back half of our season, obviously we’re not getting the wins that we would like to be getting, but we’ve been playing a lot better,” Strasburg coach Kayla Allen said. “Our quality of play and the ability to hang with these teams that used to sort of blow us out of the water last year or even earlier in the season, we’ve figured ourselves out a little bit more. And we are able to play a little bit more our game while we’re playing them rather than just sort of letting them run over us.”
In past years the Rams routinely lost games to the top programs by eight or more goals and didn’t get to finish the full match due to the mercy rule. That has happened only once this season.
In the second half of the season, the Rams hung with 10-time defending state champion George Mason before losing 4-1. Strasburg gave up the winning goal to second-place Madison County in the final 10 seconds of the game in a 2-1 loss. The Rams also lost 5-4 to third-place Clarke County earlier in the season.
Even though the Rams have only won two games this season, Allen said those hard-fought losses helped the team morale.
“It has given them confidence because it has shown that we can hang with 1 and 2 (in the district),” she said. “It just hasn’t quite clicked, but we are able to have that level of play that we haven’t been able to have in the past. So I think that’s helped the confidence. We’re still a young team. I think it’s helped them realize that in the future finishing this season and into next season we will be a force to be reckoned with. We just got to get there.”
Strasburg senior Ashleigh Hockman and sophomore Hannah Peer said that about halfway through the season they noticed things starting to change for the team.
The pair said that during their 5-1 win over Rappahannock County on April 23, they felt like things finally started coming together.
“You could see we were having fun and we were connecting,” Hockman said. “It wasn’t just we’re here to play soccer.”
Peer said that the Rams gained confidence and things gelled after that, including their games against George Mason and Madison County.
“The first time we played (district) teams I feel like we didn’t show up as good,” she said. “And the second time we played them, like George Mason (at home) and Madison (at home) we competed with them, and it was like we were a whole nother team, and it showed.”
The Rams have only four seniors, Hockman, Aaliyah Atchariyakornchai, Alexis Barb, who had her first goal of the season Tuesday against Central, and Alyson Murray. Hockman said the quartet is close and have bonded while trying to lead the team.
Hockman said that it’s been great seeing the program make progress in her senior year.
“I think from last year to this year has definitely been a major shift in the soccer program itself,” she said. “As a senior, I can come out of Strasburg High School feeling confident that our soccer program is going in the right way, and bettering themselves.”
The Rams will be either the sixth seed or the seventh seed in next week’s Bull Run District tournament.
Peer said that she feels like the Rams can perform well and have success in the tourney.
“In the regular season, our scores don’t really show our performance, but I feel like we’ve played really well,” she said. “And going into the district tournament, I feel like if we show up and we play hard, then we’ll be able to compete with anybody.”