With youth comes exuberance, excitement, but also room to learn. Lee-Davis girls soccer learned a huge lesson Monday night: never underestimate an opponent.
A trip to J.R. Tucker, struggling at 3-7, ended as a defensive battle with a brief offensive explosion in overtime, with the Tigers turning a scoreless tie into a 2-1 victory to push the Confederates record to 6-4-1 in the highly competitive Conference 11.
“One of our players said to watch out for [Tucker’s Alexis Pheng], and she had excellent ball skills, but had we communicated better, our defense against her would have been smoother,” explained sophomore Lauren Wolfgang.
It was Pheng who broke away and scooted the ball past goalkeeper Beth Rusticelli for a 1-0 Tiger lead early in the first overtime, setting off a brief scoring flurry after over 80 minutes where both teams struggled to get shots on goal.
Fellow sophomore Mason Courter took little time to answer, scoring less than a minute later to tie the match at one, re-inflating the Confederate bench. But the tie was painfully short-lived, as the Lee-Davis defense collapsed, and Juju Pamplona took advantage, outrunning two Confederates for the game-winning breakaway goal just a minute after Courter’s equalizer.
“This was our poorest performance of the season,” Lee-Davis head coach Bryan Doane said. “We’re young, and sometimes it’s hard to keep your focus for every match. This was a learning experience to remind us all we have to play at our top level every night.”
Both Wolfgang and Doane believed the team did not take the Tigers as seriously as they should, but both can be buoyed by the team’s attitude Tuesday night as they prepared to host rival Hanover.
“Our girls were frustrated last night that they didn’t perform to their capabilities, and I thought it would be good for them to get out on the field tonight,” Doane noted.
Even though it would’ve meant four matches in five days, Doane’s hope was dashed as little over one minute into the match with the Hawks, the game was stopped due to lightning. It never resumed and will not be rescheduled.
This is a fact seniors are disappointed over, and there are several on Lee-Davis’ roster, led by Rusticelli. The 6-4-1 Confederates, though, start a freshman and five sophomores. There is clearly a youth movement underway in Mechanicsville.
“When I came here two years ago, we didn’t have a JV program and varsity won five games. Last year, we won six. This year, JV has a winning record, varsity is on its way,” Doane said. “Our goals are to get better every week, then every year.”
Naming Atlee the gold standard among girls soccer teams in the area, Doane hopes his players will take more pride in wearing the Confederates uniform as their teams’ fortunes rise. Lee-Davis hopes to finish in the top four of Conference 11 in order to host a first round match May 26. It will be tough going to grab one of two 5A South Region berths from the conference battling with the Raiders, defending state champion Deep Run, Mills Godwin, and Douglas Freeman to name a few, but Doane reminds his young squad anything is possible.
“If we can improve, and at the tournament play to our top level, we can achieve more of our goals,” Doane opined.
Two wins would certainly do the trick. Confederate fans hope their young team has learned valuable lessons from Monday night.
Lee-Davis is currently fourth in Conference 11, with Douglas Freeman just behind at 4-5-1, making the May 23 season finale between the two all the more important. Atlee is currently atop the conference, and unbeaten, at 10-0.