NR defense plays tough, but not enough

Published 1:46 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

With a goal in each half, Grassfield overcame a dedicated defensive effort by Nansemond River’s girls soccer squad Thursday night and earned an important 2-0 win in the race for a top-four spot in the Southeastern District standings.

Both sides entered this evening with 3-2 marks in district play, which put them among five teams with tied with the same record in third place. The host Grizzlies moved into what’s now a three-way tie for third while Nansemond River (6-5-1, 3-3-0) drop into a sixth-place tie with Oscar Smith. The top four schools reach the Southeastern District Tournament in two weeks.

From the outset, Nansemond River’s defense stayed organized and the Warriors tried to score quickly on counterattack chances.

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River’s best chance of the evening proved to be in the 18th minute. Grassfield had recorded five of the first six shots of the match, but quick ball movement by Ashley Evans and Brittany Frame out of NR’s defensive end of the field nearly led to a go-ahead goal.

A pass by Evans sent forward Malika Rashid between two Grassfield defenders with a breakaway into the Grizzily penalty box and Rashid hit a well-struck shot on goal, but Grassfield’s keeper parried the ball away. Kellie Duffy followed the attack and controlled the rebound, but a closely-guarded shot by Duffy from 15 yards out rolled wide.

Four minutes later, Grassfield took the lead. The Grizzlies scored again in the 70th minute, capping off a second half which was played almost entirely in Nansemond River’s half of the field.

Grassfield finished with a 22-4 shot advantage. Danielle Gallagher made four saves in goal for the Warriors in the first half. Rachel McManus made four saves in the second half.

Nansemond River has three straight home matches to finish its regular season. If the Warriors are to hold on to postseason hopes, they face a nearly-must-win match on Tuesday against Oscar Smith. A draw or a loss to the Tigers would likely drop the Warriors a game or more out of fourth place with two matches remaining.