Warriors edge HCHS

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 25, 2007

MERRY HILL – There’s sometimes never anything that compares to home-cooking, especially when the primary aroma that tingles and tantalizes your senses is victory.

The Lawrence Academy Warriors got a chance to savor such succulence Thursday afternoon, when they posted their first win of the 2007 high school soccer season with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over the Hertford County Bears, sending the Bears to their second loss of the season. 

Junior striker Brennan Sasser scored the two goals for Lawrence — both in the second half — as the Warriors upped their record to 1-2 following a pair of losses in the Ridgecroft (School) Invitational Tournament last weekend (4-1 to host, Ridgecroft, and 6-1 to Pasquotank County).  Hertford County lost for the second time in a row and are currently winless at 0-2 after falling on Tuesday to Ridgecroft School at home in their season opener. 

&uot;I think that the two games that we played last weekend helped us improve to the point of correcting some of our mistakes,” said Lawrence coach Luis Giron afterward. “We played solid defense and created a lot of opportunities in all our games — which usually means a lot of goals — but today we only needed two goals to win it.&uot;

The match was relatively even for the first 10 minutes: each team attempting five shots on goal  Then at the 12:14 mark, Hertford County forward David Casillas intercepted a crossing pass at midfield, skirted past the defenders to the left corner and rocketed in the first goal of the season for the Bears and a 1-0 lead. 

Four minutes later it looked as if that lead would grow by another goal, but Stephen Rampersand’s apparent goal on a breakaway after an assist from Kirk Davenport was waved off for a violation. Three minutes later the Bears would have to play the rest of the match a man-down as forward Richard Burns received a red-card ejection for a violation on Aadil Amond away from the ball.  Playing short-handed would possibly cost the Bears in the end. 

Lawrence got the equalizer at the 30:06 mark when Sasser found the net on a throw-in as he skimmed the ball just past a diving Bears goal-keeper, Travis Ellis, and the game was knotted at 1-1.   Lawrence looked as if they would command the halftime lead four minutes later, but Dylan Nando Ralph’s header off a John Summerford corner kick bounced away just in front of the outstretched arms of Ellis and the game remained tied for the final six minutes entering the break with Lawrence outshooting the visitors, 16 attempts to Hertford County’s 10, and each team’s keeper having four saves.

Lawrence, as they had in their two previous matches, was more the second-half aggressor even though they took the same number of shots, 16, in both halves.  The Warriors spread the field and worked more of their shot attempts into the corners, but Ellis and the Bears defense were up to the task as they turned away attempt-after-attempt with seven saves against a fierce offensive barrage.

While Lawrence appeared stronger on offense, the Bears were countering with a stingy defense.  

With less than 10 minutes remaining in the tight contest, Lawrence’s Summerford slipped a Bears defender and let fly a shot that just nipped the post, but bounded toward an alert Sasser who rifled in what proved to be the game winner at 70:15 in the contest. Summerford has three more attempts to pad the lead, but Hertford County held.

The Bears thought they might escape with a tie thanks to two more attempts each by Casillas and Rampersand, but R.J. Deppisch — brilliant in goal all afternoon — combined with the Warrior defenders to make the one-goal lead hold up and as the whistle sounded, Lawrence had their first win of the season on their home pitch. 

&uot;Playing a home game is always hard,&uot; said a smiling coach Giron — basking in the afterglow of the victory, &uot;The pressure in the first minute sometimes leads to a lack of concentration.  Fortunately we tied the game before the second half and that helped us and we started the half with more confidence.&uot;

Giron also had praise for sophomore Sasser, a converted goalie now playing striker.  &uot;He’s learning how to move with the ball and without the ball.   He also has something very important for a striker: imagination.  Imagining with to do with the ball in a specific situation is very important.&uot;

&uot;Both teams worked hard,&uot; said a less-than dejected Bears coach Steve Popadich. &uot;Casillas and Rampersad work well together up front and with our speed up front, we get the ball up front, they’ll be looking for it.  I’m really proud of the effort of my kids and I look forward to seeing them again.&uot;

The Bears and Warriors won’t have a long wait before they face-off on the pitch again: Hertford County will host Lawrence in the rematch next Wednesday, August 29, in Ahoskie.  It’ll be part of back-to-back trips on back-to-back days across the county line for the Warriors, who’ll face Ridgecroft for the second time this season earlier, on Tuesday.