STRASBURG – Thursday’s match against Skyline was a vital one for Strasburg’s girls soccer team.
The Rams, who won only two games last season, have never been known for their winning culture. That made a 3-1 victory over the visiting Hawks on Thursday night even more important for a Strasburg squad that had dropped a close match to Broadway in its season opener.
“We lose our first game, and it would’ve been really easy to just be like ‘well, there’s that,’” Rams head coach Kayla Allen said after the victory. “I think that winning this game’s gonna be important for our confidence. … Showing that we can beat schools that have beaten us in the past, schools that are bigger than us – and Skyline’s very talented. They’re fast; they’re aggressive. This wasn’t an easy win at all, and I think this shows that we’re gonna fight and we’re gonna fight through all of those games.”
Strasburg (1-1), which had tied and lost to Skyline in two meetings in 2018, staked an early lead in Thursday’s matchup when Brittany Coffelt’s pass into the box was first deflected before finding the feet of teammate Sierra Rickard, who scored her second goal of the season in the 13th minute for a 1-0 lead.
The Hawks (0-1) quickly countered with a goal from Annabelle O’Fallon that came at the end of Jordan Kenney’s corner kick three minutes later, but Strasburg’s Abigail Davis put the Rams back in front with a goal in the 29th minute.
Davis’ goal, her first of the season, came after Skyline keeper Laura Brown made an initial save on Morgan Mrizek’s shot from the middle of the penalty box off a corner kick.
“We are working with a different formation than we have been and think that first game gave us the ability to become a little bit familiar with where we should be, and then tonight we got where we should be, and we were in those goalscoring places on the field,” said Allen, whose team attempted 12 shots, including eight on goal, in the win. “Sierra’s goal, I think, was one of my proudest moments (as a coach) because it came from the back line and we connected five or six passes around them to then finish. That’s exactly what I want them to do.”
Strasburg’s offensive production took a dip in the second half – the Rams attempted only three shots over the final 40 minutes – and Skyline had its chances to even the score while attempting seven of their 12 shots after halftime.
Strasburg freshman goalkeeper Kenley Smith, who replaced starting keeper Sam Simpson in the second half, made a pair of diving saves to upon entering the game in goal to keep the Rams’ lead intact.
The Hawks also had a shot at an open goal bang off the left post in the 55th minute, and a free kick from the top of the penalty box that could’ve tied the match with less than seven minutes left sailed high.
Strasburg didn’t put the game out of reach until Morgan Bible chipped a looping shot from the top of the 18 that dropped over the head of Brown for a goal with five minutes to play.
“I think a little bit of luck got us through the second half,” Allen said with a laugh. “I think that we went in the second half excited because we were up and I felt we dominated the possession of the first half. I think we were feeling confident, and then going into the second half we got a little bit sloppy because we were just trying to force our way up, and we were just like ‘let’s get more goals because we can get goals and we are getting goals,’ and then it became this soccer that we didn’t quite want it to be. I think that allowed them to get those scary opportunities that we were saved by the skin of our teeth a little bit.”
Skyline head coach Kristy Beaune, whose team was playing its first regular-season match of the year after playing a scrimmage against Luray on Tuesday, said Strasburg “wanted it more” in the first half, and though the Hawks stepped up their game in the second half, they simply couldn’t find the net when given the opportunity.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of outside time, and everybody freaks out in the beginning,” Beaune said of the missed scoring chances. “Give them midseason, and then they’ll be more comfortable with the pressure.”
Both teams return to action next Tuesday, with Strasburg traveling to Broadway and Skyline hitting the road to take on Millbrook.
“The girls have a lot of chemistry, and I have a lot of teamwork and all that, so I’m excited about that,” Beaune said. “They all play, but they need to learn to play together. That takes getting out on the big field and letting them have a chance to do it.”