Rams claim Invitational

Published 9:54 am Monday, August 20, 2012

AHOSKIE – Reload and re-group.

The Ridgecroft School boys soccer team, a season removed from their state championship season, opened the 2012 campaign last weekend with their own Ridgecroft Invitational.

The two day affair also featured Terra Ceia Christian School, KIPP Pride and Cape Fear Christian as fellow-participants at Mike Bryant Soccer Field.

In the end, the result was the same.

The Rams won the seventh annual edition with a 3-0 shutout of Cape Fear Christian in the championship match on Saturday.  Earlier KIPP Pride took the consolation match with a 5-3 result.

In Friday’s first round, the host team throttled Terra Ceia while Cape Fear Christian nipped KIPP, 2-0.

“We realize that we’re going to get everybody’s ‘A-game’ this year,” said first-year coach Chris Hill; bumped up from his assistant’s role in 2011 to the top spot replacing veteran pitch-boss, Aron Martin.

“I welcome that because I don’t want to see any surprises at the end of the year,” he added. “I want to know who we’re facing, and I want to be ready for it.”

Not surprising for the Rams was their stingy defense led by senior goal-keeper, Jordan Harrell, who registered his first shutout of the season with a big save on a penalty kick that would have tied the match.

The offense was all provided by first-year striker, Barkan Fener. The junior forward collected his first high school hat-trick of the year by scoring all three Ridgecroft goals with one assist by Landon Larabee..

And Fener scored just about every way possible: off a corner-kick, on a penalty kick, and finally by bending one in on a goal-kick.

“He’s a player, but right now I’m focused on the team’s effort because I can take some positives from today, but we also know what we have to work on. We have high expectations,” Hill added with emphasis.

While several Ridgecroft players have yet to return for the start of school, the veterans who performed did so admirably.

The Rams got on the board first on a corner kick from junior Larabee. His effort sailed toward the box and Fener leapt to smash in a header that gave Ridgecroft a 1-0 lead eleven-and-a-half minutes into the match.

Ridgecroft had had other chances to score, but one shot was stopped by Cape Fear goal-keeper, William Fitzgerald, while another was wide right of the goal and another sailed high over the cross-bar.

At the 31-minute mark, Ridgecroft was called for a hand-ball, setting up a penalty kick  Harrell squared off against the Eagles’ Andrew Parrish; but Parrish’s effort did not fool the keeper, and he fell on the shot to preserve the shutout.

Later, at the 37th minute, Cape Fear committed a violation setting up a penalty kick for Fener. He sent a chippie shot on one bounce past the diving Fitzgerald to make it, 2-0, Rams.

That score held through halftime.

Ridgecroft had other chances in the early minutes of the second frame, but came up short.  Finally, at the 69th minute, Fener got a goal-kick and sailed one into the twine over the outstretched arm of the keeper for the final goal of the day.

“We went at ’em real hard,” said Cape Fear Christian coach Bill Parrish. “We were aggressive and showed a lot of heart.  I’m proud of them.”

“I have no problem with this team having a target on its back,” said Hill.

“I know we have it in us,” he added. “We just have to go out every time and show it.”