Fayetteville girls top Ripley for first win since 2015 season –
By Wade Linville –
Last year, the Fayetteville-Perry Lady Rockets finished their fall soccer campaign without a single victory, scoring only four goals the entire season, but their drought ended on Wednesday evening while playing host to the Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington Lady Jays.
Coming off a loss to the Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs to start their 2017 soccer campaign, the Lady Rockets scored early and remained sturdy on defense to capture a narrow 1-0 victory over the Lady Jays in the Aug. 30 match at Fayetteville, evening up their record to 1-1 on the season.
It was Fayetteville senior Gabby Jones firing a well-placed shot off the fingertips of Ripley’s junior goalkeeper Cailey Kirk and to the back of the net to score what would be the only goal of the game less than eight minutes into the first half.
“I think it’s the best they’ve played in a long time,” Fayetteville-Perry girls soccer coach, Mark Ward, said of his Lady Rockets following Wednesday’s win. “We didn’t win a game last year and only scored four goals, and this year we’re 1-1 with two goals in two games, so it’s a good start. This (win) is really what we needed.”
Kirk and the rest of the Ripley defense tightened up after giving up the early goal, but on the offensive end they struggled to hit their mark.
A shot by Ripley senior Madisyn Blackburn was saved by Fayetteville’s freshman goalie Taylor Mechlin just eight minutes into the second half, and another shot by the Ripley senior just over two minutes later missed just wide of the goal.
At the midway point of the second half, a shot by Ripley junior Carlee Daulton from close range landed in the hands of the Fayetteville goalie.
It was junior Jennifer Eichner taking over as the Ripley goalkeeper in the second half while Kirk took over another defensive position on the field, and it was a save by Eichner with just over 15 minutes remaining that prevented the Lady Rockets from expanding on their 1-0 lead.
Shots continued to be fired on both ends of the field, but defenses prevailed throughout the second half.
A shot by Jones was saved by Eichner with 11:24 to play. What followed were shots by Ripley sophomore Danielle Bennington and Blackburn that failed to make it past the Fayetteville goallie.
Ripley sophomore Kailee Fisher moved in to clear an attack led by Jones with the clock closing in on the eight-minute mark.
Shots by Blackburn in the final five-and-a-half minutes of play just missed their mark, one missing by just a few inches.
One goal proved to be enough in Wednesday’s match at Fayetteville, as the Lady Rockets held on for the win.
“I like what I’m seeing,” Ward said of his Lady Rockets. “They are moving the ball well and looking for each other. I keep telling them, ‘If we continue to move forward, good things will come.’”
The Lady Rockets were scheduled to take on the Peebles Lady Indians in a non-league contest on the road, Aug. 31. The Lady Rockets will then host Peebles in a Southern Hills Athletic Conference match on Sept. 6.