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Rams roll by Oakwood

AHOSKIE – Sometimes it’s the aftermath of a storm you have to worry about.

But the ‘clean-up’ for Ridgecroft School’s soccer team turned out pretty well as they blanked The Oakwood School of Greenville Tuesday afternoon, 5-0, at Mike Bryant Field in Ahoskie.

Senior co-captain Hanes Joyner led the scoring with a pair of goals backed up by the shutout play of goal-keeper, Ethan Phelps.

Meanwhile, last week just one day before tropical storm Hanna blew into our area, the Rams were on their home field battling not just the elements but also NCISAA second-ranked Faith Christian. Unfortunately, despite a great effort, they came up short, 3-2, in overtime.

So there might have been concern on the part of Head Coach Aron Martin not just at kickoff, but also when the Eagles held the home team scoreless through the first period of play.

“We were doing the right things,” said Martin after the match, “but we just didn’t have any fire. We weren’t working hard enough, and the longer it went it was frustrating.”

The Rams totally dominated the first half, with nine shots on goal. But the balls that didn’t sail high or wide of the net were stopped with a tremendous effort from Oakwood goal-keeper, Eric Mossman, who turned away six attempts. However, as brilliant as the Eagles were on defense, Ridgecroft matched them on the pitch as Oakwood only crossed midfield four times the entire half.

In the second half, it appeared the Rams had broken the stalemate less than five minutes in when Austin Britton took a pass from Patrick Dilday that sailed over Mossman’s head into the net, but the goal was disallowed because of an offside call.

It didn’t take the Rams long to re-group as Miles Harrell was breaking down the left-side and fired a pass through three defenders to Joyner in front of the net and Ridgecroft took an early 1-0 lead.

Six minutes later Joyner rebounded in a miss by Asher Turner that curled around the keeper and staked the home team to a 2-0 margin.

And just two possessions later, Joyner beat his defender on another breakaway, did some fancy footwork to fake out two more Eagles and rifled a shot toward the right post. The shot ricocheted off the post, but Britton was there for clean-up and that made the score 3-0.

Ridgecroft got a couple of more goals late in the half as Michael Byrum outraced his by now fatiguing defenders down the left side and beat the keeper for another goal; and the final score came on a Dilday throw-in as Tyler Hughes chipped in an easy shot and the Rams had taken their fifth win of the year, and second in conference play.

“Our spacing was wide,” said Oakwood coach Sean Cybrowski, “and we got bodies between the ball as best we could, but when they began coming at us so fast it was tough to give them space and they really wore us down.”

The Rams outshot Oakwood 20 to four and had some of the first-half efforts found the twine, it might’ve been a much larger margin in the win.

“I was happy to have had 85 percent of the possessions,” said Martin, “but we’ve got to do more with those possessions to get the ball in the back of the net.

“We’ve got to take advantage of opportunities,” he added. “We were well organized in our attack, but somehow just couldn’t find those last few passes to finish.”

Ridgecroft is now 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the league.

Friday they’ll host third-ranked Greenfield School at home before taking to the road next week against Wayne Country Day and then return to Ahoskie Wednesday to host Lawrence.