Rams get back on track

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 3, 2007

AHOSKIE – Ridgecroft School soccer coach Aron Martin likes most games. 

Leapfrog, however, isn’t one of his favorites.

In the latest North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association (NCISAA) 1-A rankings, Martin’s Rams were leapfrogged by Greenfield School and Gaston Day School, thus dropping Ridgecroft to fourth in the latest poll behind number-one ranked Trinity Academy.

The Rams suffered their first loss of the season when they were shutout by Greenfield, 4-0 last Friday as the Knights scored all four of their goals in the second half, leaving Ridgecroft’s record at 13-1-1.

Despite the dip in the rankings, the Rams came back to open the week with a shutout, as they blanked Kerr-Vance Academy Tuesday, 1-0.

&uot;We have got to be peaking right now,&uot; said Martin after the win. &uot;Three quarters of the way through the season and we’ve put together one heck of a season thus far and they continue to work hard in practice and in matches.&uot;

The Spartans of KVA made the Rams work for the lone goal they got for the win.

Despite out-shooting their opponents in the first half, 10-to-six, neither Ridgecroft effort made it into the net. 

Junior Hanes Joyner led the Rams with nine shots, including the game-winner, and senior Josh Morris had six attempts though none found their mark. 

Patrick Dilday was perfect in goal as he turned away three first-half Spartan shots including one that was smothered directly in front of the box, and two more saves in the second half for the shutout.

It didn’t take long, however, for the Rams to get their act together in the second half. 

Just one minute into play, before most of the crowd had settled back in after halftime, Joyner took the ball along the right side and used a solid burst of speed to beat three defenders down the left side and rocketed in a clear, clean shot off his right foot past a diving KVA goalie, Levi Coleman, for the only score the Rams would need. 

Despite several more chances, the Rams made the score hold up for their 14th win of the season.

 &uot;The second half we were able to come out with a lot more fire,&uot; said Martin.  &uot;We weren’t as sharp as I’d like, but the effort was there. Kerr-Vance kept moving a lot of people in and out which kept their legs fresh and allowed them to get back on defense.

&uot;I never felt we were too threatened because they (KVA) didn’t have too many chances, but they did have a couple of chances that were really scary,&uot; he added. 

One of those chances came just two minutes after the Rams had scored when Spartan striker Jacob Wemyss attempted a header on a corner kick that bounced just past the post; and another about 12 minutes later when it appeared KVA had a breakaway, but the Spartans were whistled for being offside.

Fullback Chris Frampton fired a shot from the right side, but Rams keeper Patrick Dilday stretched wide to deflect it out of bounds.  And credit the Rams defense, as Kerr-Vance only attempted four more chances the final 15 minutes of the match.

&uot;It came down to them finishing chances, and we didn’t,&uot; said a disappointed Spartans coach, Rick Frampton. &uot;I thought we attacked, but we didn’t attack with numbers, and that hurt us.  You can’t take on a defense as good as theirs unless you’re the Brazilian National team – and we’re not.&uot;

The Rams also had several more chances to pad the lead, but a Rob Deanes effort was just wide of the net. Later, another shot by Morris with seven minutes left to play on which KVA goalie, Coleman, made a great stop also kept Ridgecroft off the board.

&uot;We’re going to have to work on possessions,&uot; said Martin, &uot;and battle through this little spot that we’re in.  We’ve got to have a little bit better execution as we continue, particularly into the playoffs, and I expect them to answer to that.&uot;

The Rams are off until Friday when they travel to Rocky Mount to face Faith Christian, whom the Rams edged at home back in September, 2-1.

“This (the FCA game) is going to be a huge one for us,&uot; cautioned Martin.  &uot;We’d like to finish with only the one loss and the one tie in conference and if we want to have the playoff seed that I feel we deserve, we’re going to have to do just that.&uot;