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Ridgecroft wins opener

AHOSKIE – Sometimes the best kick is a swift kick.

And that’s what Ridgecroft School soccer coach Aaron Martin quietly, but ‘figuratively,’ administered to his young team Friday as the Rams opened their 2007 season hosting their own Ridgecroft Invitational Tournament with a come-from-behind win over rival Lawrence Academy, 4-1, in the opening match.

Josh Morris scored three goals – all in the second half – while teammate, Hanes Joyner added another for the final margin and the win. Brennan Sasser scored the lone goal for Lawrence in the first half.

&uot;First half we didn’t play too poorly,&uot; said Martin after the game. &uot;We moved the ball around well, we just had trouble finishing. In the (second half) they were allowing us space to set up and we just played the ball up more and that was effective.&uot;    

What was probably most effective for the young Rams during the entire match was taking advantage of their speed on the pitch and nimble dribbling. 

While at times they didn’t pass very efficiently, they were able to work the ball well in the corners and had ample opportunities around the box.

&uot;It’s our first match,&uot; Martin added, &uot;and theirs too, so we’re all just kinda getting acclimated.&uot; 

The Rams start four seniors and one junior while the rest of the starters are underclassmen.  Lawrence, also playing their first match, are in their third year under coach Luis Giron.

&uot;It all starts with the goalie,&uot; said Giron, &uot;and up front we have to build on just attacking and attacking.&uot;

Senior Warrior goalie R.J. Deppisch got quite a workout in the first half as Ridgecroft took 23 shots, but none were able to find the back of the net, with most of the shots sailing high and wide of the goal.

In addition to the six shots Lawrence had in the first half, they also got a free kick when Nicholas Summerford went down from a hard tackle just inside the box. Summerford lined up for the shot, but his effort sail just wide of the goal. 

But with little more than minutes to go in the half, forward Brennan Sasser made a high throw-in from near the corner that caught just the right amount of wind to aid it into the back of the net on a skip-bounce in front of the goal and Lawrence struck for the first score of the season and staked the visitors to a 1-0 lead.

Rob Deans went for the equalizer for the Rams, but the ball bent just past the post and Lawrence went into halftime up by a goal.

Ridgecroft came out attacking in the second half and while the Warriors held them scoreless for almost the first fifteen minutes, Ridgecroft senior Josh Morris got a nice run on a breakaway, cruised past three Lawrence defenders and scored unassisted at the 25-minute mark to make it 1-1.

Ten minutes later he found himself in a similar position in the left corner and whistled one just past a diving goalie Deppisch to give the Rams the lead they would not relinquish at 2-1. 

It looked like it would be a two-goal lead as Logan Kinlaw took a pass in the right corner, but on his kick, the ball banged off the left post and Lawrence held the deficit to just a goal  with under eleven minutes to play.

Kinlaw would return just two and a half minutes later to make a looping pass to Hanes Joyner swooping in from the left side and Ridgecroft was finally ahead by a pair of goals at 3-1 .

Morris completed the ‘hat trick’ with his third and final goal of the afternoon on a cross at the 41:40 mark to make for the final three-goal margin and the Rams’d won their first match of the season.  They enter Saturday’s championship match with a 1-0 mark, while Lawrence tries to salvage a split in the second-day consolation round after opening the year 0-1.

&uot;We probably surprised them with that first goal, and getting it at their place&uot;, said Giron. &uot;Maybe they (Ridgecroft) needed that little bit of pressure. But we’ve been building for the last five years, and now our guys know what to expect. 

“We have the skills, so It’s important for them now to listen and to give it everything they’ve got,&uot; he added. 

&uot;They (Lawrence) earned their goal,&uot; said Martin, &uot;but it certainly put us on our heels.&uot;  

“I gave them a little encouragement,” he added with a smile, &uot;made some adjustments, and we were able to put the ball in the back of the net. Not as early and as often as I’d like but we’ll certainly take it.&uot;

Fayetteville Christian Academy, ranked fourth in the state among 2A independent schools, took on Pasquotank High from the Northeast Coastal 3A-2A Conference in the second match of the tournament. 

The loser of that match faces Lawrence in the Consolation game at 11 a.m. Saturday, while the winner meets Ridgecroft in the Championship match to follow at 1 p.m.   Both matches are to be played at the Mike Bryant Soccer Field at Ridgecroft School.