‘Resilient’ Rams bounce back

Published 11:06 am Monday, October 15, 2012

AHOSKIE – Resilient.

Just 21 hours after suffering their first loss of the season, the Ridgecroft soccer team shook off the misstep and made it a successful Homecoming celebration with a 6-0 shutout of Terra Ceia Christian School at their Mike Bryant Field home pitch.

It was the Rams’ fourth win over the Knights this season.

The “German Connection” of Barkan Koprulugil and Julian Becker scored a pair of goals each.  Landon Larabee and Nikola Jovanovic scored the other goals for Ridgecroft, while keeper Jordan Harrell recorded the shutout in goal.

“It was a good Homecoming win,  you always want to win that game,” said first-year coach Chris Hill.

“We can take some positives from it,” he added. “We’re trying to spread the field more.  We started that well today, but we’ve just got to do a better job of that.”

What they started well – and quickly – was getting on the scoreboard.  The match was less than two minutes old when Jovanovic took a crossing pass from Kopruligil and found the back of the net for Ridgecroft’s first score and a 1-0 lead.

A little later, Blake Outlaw had a try from beyond the box, but the ball sailed high over the crossbar, keeping it a one-goal match.

At the ninth minute things went the home team’s way again, much to the delight of the overflow Homecoming crowd.  Matthew Judge assisted Kopruligil on a brilliant play as the striker leapt high in the air and let one fly into the net for the Rams’ second goal.

Ridgecroft had three more tries over the next six minutes before they collected their third goal at the 16-minute mark: This time it was Larabee assisting as Kopruligil got his second goal of the match and a 3-0 lead for Ridgecroft.

That bulge held through the remainder of the first half.  Following the mid-break, six of the soccer team players participated in the halftime Homecoming festivities where Renee Brook Horne was crowned as the 2012 Ridgecroft Homecoming Queen.

The second half began slowly for the Rams as they played a bit tighter on the pitch than they had in the first half.  Becker had a couple of tries in the early going of the half and Larabee got a chance on a free kick, but neither found the goal.

At the 39th-minute of the match the scoreboard lit up for the Rams once more as Larabee got a header on a corner kick from Judge and Ridgecroft had moved to a four-goal bulge.

Larabee tried to follow that one up in the 43rd minute, but his effort sailed just to the left of the post.  A similar effort from Kopruligil also was wide left and the score remained at 4-0.

The final two goals came less than within two minutes of each other, and both off the foot of Becker.

During the 47th minute, Becker got a breakaway.  His first attempt hit the right post, but bounced right back to him and he didn’t miss a second time as he tickled the twine to the tune of a 5-0 Rams lead.

Less than a minute and a half later he got his second goal of the match for the six-goal final. The victory brought the Rams’ win total to an even dozen at 12-and-1.

“This was a big momentum builder,” said Hill. “We have a big match on Monday (against the Oakwood School, but the final was not available at press time) in Greenville and this leads right into the tournament.”

Ridgecroft is the defending North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A state champions.  The 2012 NCISAA state playoffs in soccer begin on Friday and the Rams are expected to get a first-round bye.