RANDOLPH - Sometimes a tie can feel like a win.
That's the feeling amongst the Randolph Lady Cardinals girls soccer team, at least, after managing to withstand a barrage of shots and scoring opportunities over 80 minutes of play from visiting Falconer on Wednesday afternoon to escape the non-league battle with a tie, 0-0.
Not bad for a squad from Class C (Randolph) against a talented team from Class B.
Above, Meghan Chase of Randolph, left, gets ready to clear the ball in front of Falconer’s Kelly Keefe during Wednesday’s non-league girls soccer game. Below, Randolph’s Elizabeth Roosa stops the ball while Kaylee Keith of Falconer moves in. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Rob Tucker
"Yeah, pretty much (it was a win by tie)," Randolph coach Matt Freeman said with a laugh. "We knew we were going to be playing a tough team, and that's why I like playing them at the beginning of the season."
Among the biggest questions for Freeman prior to the contest - and season - was how his new defensive unit would fare against a quick and solid-passing team.
The answer was pleasantly surprising.
"For the last three years I've had pretty much the same defense," Freeman said, "and that's where our team stability has come from. But this season we're trying new positions, trying to move different people in-and-out and putting them in different spots. It's a brand new squad, but they played well.
"I think this game is going to help them big time."
Though the group may not have been perfect, sophomore goaltender Tiffini Keyes was there to pick up any slack, making the big save when necessary to keep the game knotted.
"Tiffini did awesome," Freeman said. "Just a great job."
Keyes was called into action from minute one and was busy until minute 80. She made a diving save just four minutes into play to deflect a hard shot from Falconer's Rhea Moore wide and then, most importantly, made four saves in the final six minutes of play when the Lady Golden Falcons really began to pour on the pressure.
Every time, however, Falconer failed to convert.
"We just need to work on finishing, that's all," Falconer coach Kersten Hardy said. "I mean, we certainly had some good opportunities."
The best of the bunch came late in the game, but each time either Keyes was there to make the save or the Falconer shot was off target. With 11 minutes remaining Emily Brown drilled a shot right at Keyes; at the 74-minute mark, following a Randolph handball just a few yards outside the 18-yard box, another shot sailed straight at Keyes and with just a minute remaining Andrea Volk sent a shot that skimmed just over the crossbar.
Despite the outcome, Falconer remains optimistic the goals will come.
"Absolutely the scoring will come," Hardy said. "But right now we have a lot of young kids on the team this year and we're moving some people around. Overall, though, I thought they all played well."
Falconer will travel to Salamanca for yet another non-league game today at 7 p.m., while the Lady Cardinals' next game is with the Lady Warriors on Wednesday.