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Colonial Forge found a way to end the shutout streak of Eagles keeper Kayla Wright.
REBECCA BARNETT | The Roanoke Times
Franklin County junior Sydney Varney has a scoring chance clang off the crossbar in the 55th minute.
REBECCA BARNETT | The Roanoke Times
Franklin County sophomore Taylor Smith knees the ball past Colonial Forge players during their Western Valley District quarterfinal on Monday.
Monday, May 27, 2013
ROCKY MOUNT — Before Monday’s game, Franklin County goalkeeper Kayla Wright was introduced over the PA as “The Human Wall.”
She had earned that nickname. With her help, the Eagles had posted seven consecutive shutouts while sewing up the Western Valley District regular-season and tournament titles.
But even human walls have their limits.
A sharp Colonial Forge side put an end to Franklin County’s hot run, getting two goals from Ali Heath — with Wright having no realistic chance to save either — and defeating the hosts 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the Northwest Region girls soccer tournament.
“Yeah, I haven’t had to feel it in a while,” Wright said with a self-effacing smile, when asked what it was like to see a ball hit the back of the Franklin County net. “It was upsetting, but I didn’t expect us to come out here and have an easy game in front of us. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game.”
It was, with Colonial Forge (18-3) controlling much of the possession and ultimately taking advantage of its opportunities better than Franklin County (13-5-2) did.
“Of course, they’re coming from Northern Virginia; we know they’re expected to win,” Franklin County coach Moe Potter said. “The quality of soccer up there is really high. We had nothing to lose. We just went out there and played with everything we had. Almost good enough.
“We had a couple of chances that didn’t really work out for us, but they’re strong, they’re fast, they’re physical, they move the ball well. I thought we represented pretty well.”
The game was scoreless until the 25th minute, when Heath collected a ball on the left side and darted toward the center of the penalty box.
“We should have stepped to that a little sooner,” Potter said.
Instead, Heath found herself alone in front of the net and blasted a shot inside the left post for the first goal.
“Usually I don’t score like that, but I’ve been trying to break out of my old habits,” said Heath, who transferred in from a school in North Carolina last summer. “I’ve been in a slump, I guess, for the past few games, so I’ve been trying to pick up opportunities I have. Earlier in the first half, I realized how open I actually was, and I decided to just go for it.”
The second goal was simply technical perfection. In the 50th minute, Colonial Forge’s Sydney Arnold made a run toward the right side of the Franklin County goal. At the last instant, she sent a perfect cross to Heath, who banged the ball into the empty left side.
“That’s textbook,” Colonial Forge coach Bronson Gambale said. “That’s something we’ve been working on since July, offseason conditioning. It’s good to see it and go, ‘Thank you girls, that’s what we’re looking for.’ ”
Franklin County got what it was looking for only a couple of times, and it could not convert either time.
In the 34th minute, Kelsey Angell took a long pass from the midfield and got a one-on-one chance with the keeper, but her volley hopped just wide of the goal.
“I think it was probably a foot or two off the left post,” Angell said.
In the 55th minute, Franklin County’s Sydney Varney tried the upper-left corner of the goal and had the keeper beat — but saw the ball clang off the crossbar.
Still, Franklin County took heart in the fact that it compiled a nine-game unbeaten streak heading into regionals and competed as well as it did against a talented Northern Virginia foe.
“This is probably one of the best teams we’ve fielded here ever, as far as I’m concerned,” Potter said. “I think we’re starting to close the gap a little bit.”
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