Blazers end season with 2-0 loss in region quarterfinals
WOOTTON, OCT. 31-
From the opening whistle to the very last seconds of Tuesday night's match, the varsity girls' soccer team fought relentlessly against the number one team in the division. They played with heart and skill, showing that despite an 8-8 season, the Blazers are capable of taking on any team in the county.
Through a combination of luck and aggressive play, the Blazers kept the first half score at 0-0. Wootton mounted a relentless offensive attack, but the Blazers disrupted every play made by the Patriots. Blair's defenders and midfielders, who worked up and down the field all night, stuck to Wootton's players, giving them no space to make a move on goal. The Patriots had seven corner kicks in the half, but Blair's tight coverage stopped them from converting any of the kicks to goals. Luck played its part in the 38th minute, when a Wootton player fired off a shot from 35 yards out, but the ball bounced off the top crossbar and fell out of bounds.
On offense, the Blazers played with speed and skill, moving the ball quickly amongst themselves to carry possession up the field for several scoring opportunities. But, the Blazers could not settle the ball in Wootton's goalbox and had to take quick shots that were easily deflected by the Wootton goalkeeper.
In the second half, the Blazers tested Wootton's defense far more with numerous unified attacks on goal. As they picked up offensive momentum, the Blazers were awarded several corner kicks and free kicks, giving them an opportunity to get players in the box. With more bodies on offense, the Blazers threatened the Wootton goal again and again, but were unable to net a goal.
Meanwhile, the Patriots became desperate to score and started using dirty tactics to get the ball. As the game turned into a dangerous slew of tackles and fouls, Gibb voiced Wootton's attitude to the bench, saying, "The longer we stay in the game, the dirtier it's going to get."
The game progressed into back and forth play, but Wootton dominated possession of the ball. In the 55th minute, the Patriots broke the standstill with a goal from point blank range. Wootton's first shot bounced off the top crossbar and back into the 6 yard box, and as goalkeeper Maggie Sullivan moved forward to retrieve the ball another Wootton striker hit it into the left side of the net.
Wootton continued to dominate control of the ball, but whenever the Blazers got possession they moved the ball forward for a scoring opportunity. Blair's most dangerous plays came towards the end of the game, after Wootton netted their second goal of the night. The Patriots sent a cross into an almost empty Blazer goalbox, and Sullivan stopped the first shot, making one of her numerous outstanding saves of the night. But the Blazers struggled to clear the ball and Wootton was able to score on their second shot, bringing the score to 2-0 in favor of the Patriots.
Blair responded with invigorated offensive play in the last seven minutes of the game. Striker Annie Worden carried the ball down half of the field, outrunning three Wootton defenders for a one-on-one with the Wootton goalkeeper. The goalkeeper moved forward to stop the ball, but Worden ripped off a left footed shot that bounced off the top crossbar. Two minutes later sophomore Anna Rassman fired a corner kick across the Wootton goal, but the Blazers could not get a head or foot on it to score. The Blazers did not give up, and were on the attack again when Rassman sent a throw in to senior Danielle Peck. Peck headed the ball to Worden in the middle, and Worden was fouled just outside the goalbox. She sent the free kick soaring at the goal, but Wootton's goalkeeper saved the shot.
Despite the final score, the Blazers walked off the field with pride. They had played with true heart, not letting Wootton's "dirty" tactics or some of the Patriot fans' rude jeering faze them and rising to the occasion to play with the best team in the county. "We finally played to our potential," said Gibb. "They had to give everything to beat us."
As the Blazers walked out of Wootton's stadium, triumphant despite the loss, they left something behind. "We left our butts on field," said Gibb. What more could a team ask for?
Rachita Sood. Rachita Sood wants you to tell her a joke. She probably won't get it, but she'll laugh anyways. In the little free time she has, Rachita enjoys jammin' to ROXANNE, dressing in earth-toned clothes and munching on Peeps. More »
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