Published 9:27 am Tuesday, September 3, 2013

RALEIGH – Barkan Koeprueluegil scored the game-winner with less than twenty minutes left in the match and then the Ridgecroft defense held off a comeback to help the Rams post their fifth straight win of the season against no losses.

Koeprueluegil registered his third ‘hat-trick’ of the season – a match in which he has scored at least three goals. The senior striker scored on a penalty kick in the fourth minute, then again in minute-11 on an assist by Landon Larabee before knocking the game-winner into the back of the twine in the 62nd minute. The Tigers scored in minute-76 to get within a goal, but that was as close as they came.

“Great team effort,” said first-year coach Russ Sohooli. “We started strong and we grinded it out.”

Since their opening win against Cape Fear Christian Academy in the Ridgecroft Invitational the Rams have been on a tear.

On Aug.20 at Wayne Christian in Goldsboro they scored a 9-0 win in a match that ended early in the 68th minute.

Larabee played like a player possessed as he racked up five goals, three for Koeprueluegil, and a solo goal for Matthew Judge.

The next day, Aug. 21,  Ridgecroft put another shutout up on the board with a 3-0 win back in Ahoskie at Mike Bryant Field against the Oakwood School.

Once again, Koeprueluegil had the first goal on a penalty kick for an early Rams lead; then Larabee scored the second goal and Barkan finished the scoring for the afternoon with his second goal of the match.

Win number-4 came at Kerr-Vance Academy in Henderson in what was their tightest match to date and first this season against a 2A opponent. The Rams eeked out the 3-2 win thanks to a pair of goals from Koeprueluegil and another by Larabee.

On Thursday Ridgecroft played its first match against a Tarheel Independent Conference opponent versus the Pungo Raiders and the Rams won.

“Overall, I’m pleased,” said Sohooli. “Everybody’s working hard and we just want to keep winning.”

Next week Ridgecroft has a pair of road tilts: the return match at Oakwood in Greenville and against defending state champion Greeenfield School in Wilson.

A week from Monday the soccer match will be a family affair when veteran Ali Sohooli, the coach at Hertford County High, squares off against the younger Sohooli on Sept. 9 at Mike Bryant Field.

That match will pit father versus son.