Lady Warriors notch key win

Published 10:14 pm Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brittany Frame may have been holding an ice bag on a bruised hand late Wednesday afternoon, but the Nansemond River High junior hadn’t felt this good in a long time. Frame’s goal, scored 38 seconds before halftime, had just lifted the visiting Warriors to a 1-0 upset of Western Branch in the teams’ Southeastern District game.

When the final whistle sounded, Nansemond River midfielder Breanne Lowe and goalkeeper Stephanie Tarafas raced to the sideline and leaped into a hug that dropped the screeching pair to the ground like sacks of flour. As soon as they rose, here came a bouncing Frame, and the celebration was on for a team that’s shaken up the district race in its late going.

“This shows people that Nansemond River is a force to be reckoned with,” said Frame, whose team closes its district portion of the regular season by hosting Oscar Smith and Indian River. “Western Branch had been kicking people’s butts all season.”

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Indeed, the Bruins had been posting lopsided victories and were thought to perhaps stand a chance at snapping Lakeland’s eight-year reign as district champions. But losing to Nansemond River, a team that fell to Lakeland by a pair of goals last month, isn’t the way to go about it.

“We did a good job of getting the ball down in their end and getting some early shots but (Tarafas) did a nice job,” said Western Branch coach Dawn Smith, whose team plays Lakeland on Friday at the former U.S. National Training Center in Virginia Beach. “We knew she was going to be a big factor.”

Tarafas made three point-blank saves in the first 1:20 and at one point midway through the second half, led the Warriors in repelling six consecutive penalty corners.

“She kept us in the game,” said Nansemond River coach Darryl Yandle, who has repeatedly contended that Tarafas is one of the region’s best backstops. “I was nervous the whole game but we had real good transition in getting the ball down field and that kept their offense in check.”

Western Branch (7-2, 5-1) had roughly three times as many penalty corners as Nansemond River, yet it was the Warriors who made one count with Frame’s goal.

Kayla Johnson put the ball into play to Meghan Folden and her shot caromed to Frame in the circle. The midfielder didn’t take time to aim, she just concentrated on making good contact on a push shot that sneaked by the feet of Bruins’ goalkeeper Adrienne Fly.

“You just keep your head down and listen for the sound of the ball hitting the back of the goal,” Frame said.

By defeating Western Branch, No. 8 in one ranking of South Hampton Roads’ top teams, the Warriors have taken a big step towards avoiding Lakeland in the first round of the four-team district tournament on Oct. 29. Should Nansemond River finish second or third in the district and likely face Western Branch or Hickory in the district tournament semifinals, a victory would send the Warriors to the final and guarantee them a berth in the regional playoffs the following week.

Nansemond River (8-2-1, 5-1-1) last reached that stage two seasons ago, when it fell to Lakeland in the district tournament final and to Cox in the first round of regional play.