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Posted May 16, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Warriors blank Wildcats on record-setting night

By Jerry Holsworth -- sports@nvdaily.com

STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando took advantage of two goals in the first four minutes of play to take a record-breaking 3-0 victory over Warren County on Friday in the opening round of the Northwestern District girls soccer tournament.

Although the second-seeded Warriors (14-2-1) blasted away at the seventh-seeded Wildcats (5-12) throughout the game, Warren County frustrated most of Sherando's scoring opportunities.

"Warren County is a class act," Sherando coach Rob Kilmer said. "They could have given up, but they fought us hard to the end."

Sherando's Nikki Rhodes and Brittni Dennis came into the game tied for the season with 23 goals and 11 assists each. It took less than two minutes for the pair to combine to break both deadlocks. Just 1:38 into the game, Dennis hit Rhodes with a pass 20 yards from the goal, and Rhodes smashed past goalkeeper Maya Richards for the first goal of the game.

"Brittni played the ball to me perfectly and I just shot it for the post," Rhodes said.

Less than two minutes later, Rhodes got another opportunity to score. This time, however, Richards made a diving save deflecting the ball away. Richards' deflection went right to the foot of Jenny Ice, who put the ball in the net, giving the Warriors a 2-0 lead.

"Nikki took a really good shot, but their keeper deflected it," Ice said. "I just happened to be at the perfect spot to put it in the goal."

With the Warriors ahead 2-0 just four minutes into the game, it looked as though it was going to be a long night for Warren County. But the Wildcats stepped up their defensive effort, and despite giving up 15 more shots in the first half, Sherando wasn't able to capitalize.

"We knew that we were going to have to play a great game defensively to stay close," Warren County midfielder Hannah Oates said. "We knew coming into the game that we were the underdog. They had a lot of opportunities, but look at the final score. We worked hard to the very end to fight them off."

Despite the close score and the inspired Wildcats defense, Warren County was only able to get off two shots during the entire game. Part of the problem was Sherando's ball control. The Warriors consistently beat the Wildcats to the ball, and rarely gave up it up once they had possession.

"It was a little frustrating at times," Dennis said. "But our goal tonight was to come together as a team, and I thought we accomplished that. We moved the ball well, and gave ourselves a lot of opportunities to score. They just didn't go in tonight, but a lot of credit for that has to go to Warren County."

Dennis got the final goal of the game for Sherando, scoring with a hard shot from 18 yards out with 33:16 left in the game. The goal was the junior's 48th-career goal, the second highest mark in Sherando girl's soccer history.

Sherando goalkeeper Rachel Shirley recorded her 25th career shutout, which ties her with Dustin Butcher for the most shutouts in school history.

The victory -- a school-record 14th for Sherando -- puts the Warriors in the semifinals Tuesday against Handley. For the Wildcats, the loss ends the careers of 11 seniors with a strong effort against one of the district's best teams.

"After the first couple of minutes of the game, I thought we played hard to the very end," Warren County coach Mike Carpenter said. "This senior class has played hard from the very beginning and done everything that we've asked of them. I'm very proud of them."

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