Wednesday night at Mansion Park, Rams locked horns.
No, not literally, but No. 4 Richland and No. 5 Penns Valley squared off in a District 6 Class AA girls’ soccer quarterfinal matchup. The Lady Rams of Richland came out on top 2-1.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” Penns Valley coach Jeff Denger said. “Penns Valley has been matched up with Richland six or seven times since 2007. Every time its a fight.”
A fight it was from the get go. One thing that stuck out was Richland’s speed. It was something Denger knew his team had to focus on.
“We definitely had to adjust to that,” Denger said. “We haven’t seen that type of speed in our season games or that style of play.”
Richland outshot Penns Valley 7-4 in the first half. In the second half, you could tell Denger’s adjustment worked as Richland got one shot the whole second half.
However, the damage was already done at the beginning of the game.
“They came out and got an easy header,” Denger said. “Maybe, too easy. Maybe we got a little bit of nerves from the start of the game.”
Richland picked up a corner kick thanks in part to a speedy Samantha Felton pushing the ball up the far side of the field. Felton took the corner and served it perfectly to the head of Alison Mattes at the far post for the score in the third minute.
After a shot attempt from a Richland player got blocked, the ball trickled to the middle of the box. Richland’s Allison Patula found it an rifled it to the upper left corner of the net to hand her team a 2-0 lead six minutes into the game.
Penns Valley wouldn’t be detered by the deficit. In the 11th minute, the Lady Rams were inside the box thanks to a deep push from Hannah Montminy down the near sideline.
Montminy got cornered before squeaking between two Richland defenders and headed towards the middle of the field. Keira Whitman filled in the space behind Montminy. Montminy saw here teammate and chipped a pass between two more Richland defenders. Whitman finished it off from three yards out in the bottom left corner of the goal.
It was the closest Penns Valley got to the goal until about 20 seconds remained in the game. Montminy took a pass up the far sideline and ripped a shot from 25 yards out. The shot skirted just to the outside post and the Lady Rams’ season came to an end.
“I figured it would take four goals for us to win,” Denger said as his team finished with its best record at 11-6-1. “We tried to pull it together. We tried to connect some passes and create some space. We just couldn’t seem to finish the second goal to tie it up. The girls gave it there all.”