SANDY— It has been nearly a decade, three days shy exactly, since the girls soccer program at Rowland Hall handed Waterford a loss.
In fact, in seven contests since 2010, the Ravens have amassed 33 goals in their favor to just five from the Winged Lions.
Streaks are made to be broken, and Rowland Hall delivered with a decisive 4-2 victory at Waterford Thursday afternoon — a victory that snapped the Ravens' current 10-game unbeaten streak.
“I’m pretty familiar with the rivalry, but we just had to get our kids to believe a little bit. I think sometimes when you go that long, where you haven’t had any joy or success, you start taking the small victories because at least you're competing with one of the better teams in 2A,” said Rowland Hall head coach Bobby Kennedy after his team's win. “I still think Waterford is the benchmark in both boys and girls in 2A. So, I want the kids to know that’s our competition and if you aspire to play at that level you're going to have to show up at our place or on the road.”
It was a fast-paced first half, with the momentum leaning slightly in favor of the visitors.
Rowland Hall struck first on a 14th-minute corner kick that set up the eventual goal. Airam Perez sent the ball into the box, which was collected near the top of the box by Grace Veghte. Her first touch sent the ball to the waiting boot of Jess Sterret, whose left-footed attempt deflected off the Waterford keeper and into the back of the net.
Waterford found the equalizer in the 21st minute, when Emily McIntyre buried her sixth goal of the season with a shot from near the top of the box.
In the 25th minute, it was Rowland Hall again with a goal to grab the 2-1 lead. Mariah Papac collected the ball at the top corner of the box and sent a beautiful shot to the far post that beat the diving Waterford keeper.
“We knew their defense would step high, so we knew we’d have to shoot early,” said Papac after the match. “We had to play a very mental game against Waterford because they are very physical, and so are we.”
McIntyre gave Waterford its best chance before the half to equalize again, but this time on a penalty kick in the 33rd minute. A diving Alyssa Cole thwarted the penalty kick to preserve the 2-1 Winged Lions lead.
“Our keeper made that PK save, and if that goes in it probably changes the game, especially if a few things go their way,” said Kennedy.
The majority of the second half was Waterford desperately chasing the lead in search of goals.
Rowland Hall found its third goal of the match from Liz Baer, who briefly found herself alone at the top of the box and sent in her fifth goal of the season over the head of the Waterford keeper.
The Ravens managed to notch the second Waterford goal of the match in the 60th minute. It was McIntyre again with her seventh goal of the year, this time burying the goal on a Ravens corner kick.
Papac delivered her second goal of the match in the 65th minute for Rowland Hall, again with a shot from distance and over the head of the Waterford keeper for the brace.
“I feel pretty good, but our whole team played really well. It’s all because of the team that we won,” said Papac after the two-goal outing. “We had to redeem ourselves after our last loss to Waterford this season, so we came back strong.”