The Ripley and Mason County girls’ soccer teams couldn’t manage to find the back of the net in the first half, despite several chances each.
An early second half goal from Reggie Taylor looked like it might be enough for the Lady Jays to notch their second win of the season, but the two teams traded blows in the final six minutes of Thursday’s contest to come away with a 2-2 draw, after Mason County posted a 5-3 win over Ripley earlier in the season.
“We have a couple back from injury that we didn’t have for that game which I think definitely helps, but I think their energy level and their understanding of their roles has definitely picked up,” said Ripley coach Kevin Poe. “The thing that’s been killing us all year is our finishing when we go to shoot, which was better today and we were close at the end with a ball off the crossbar, but overall I’m very, very pleased with the way they played.”
Mason County and Ripley combined for 24 shots in the first half, but it was 1:30 into the second half when Taylor found the ball in the box on a corner kick and blasted it into the top of the net from close range to give the Lady Jays the lead.
Despite several chances over the next 30 minutes, including an indirect kick near Ripley’s goal with just over 20 minutes to play and three second-half corners, Mason County was unable to get the equalizer.
“I think Ripley was doing a really good job of condensing the defense in the center and then we were just having a hard time playing the ball wide at first and realizing we can’t just bring it up the middle,” said Mason County coach Amy Cottam.
They didn’t fall into a deeper hole thanks to Alexis Adams, however. The Lady Royals’ keeper had five saves in the second half and 11 on the game to keep Mason County within a goal of Ripley. Her counterpart, Ginny Saunders, also finished with 11 saves.
Then the floodgates opened.
Mason County leading scorer Rachel Payne dribbled the ball through the Ripley defense and passed it across the box to Ashleigh Spencer, who placed a low shot in the far corner of the net to tie the game in the 75th minute.
“We finally – when the ball was on the strong side – we crossed it to weak where we had an opening and the defense wasn’t,” said Cottam. “That’s what gave us that opening. We were finally getting it to the weak side, basically.”
Ripley, looking to avenge the loss earlier in the season to the Lady Royals, were determined to collect their second win of the season and show they’re a team on the rise after a rough showing last season. The Lady Jays took back the lead with under 2:30 to play when Carlee Daulton beat her defender and placed a low shot past the charge of Adams for the 2-1 advantage.
But Payne decided to take it herself on the ensuing kickoff and found the back of the net just 13 seconds later, knotting the game up, 2-2, where it would finish.
The Lady Jays had a one last chance to retake the lead in the final minute, but a shot from Rachel Shepherd went off the crossbar and the follow-up shot from Taylor went over the net.
Ripley moves to 1-6-1 with the win. The Lady Jays are scheduled to host Reading at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s already been a lot better this year. Last year pretty much every game was six, seven, eight to nothing,” said Poe. “We’ve definitely cut that out this year. We’ve got a league win this year, which we didn’t do last year. We have two 2-1 losses, a 5-3 loss, a tie here, so it’s definitely been an improvement and this definitely shows a step in the right direction.”
Mason County falls to 4-3-3 with the draw. The Lady Royals are scheduled to travel to Montgomery County on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. game.
LADY ROYALS 2, LADY JAYS 2
Goals: (R) Taylor 42nd minute, (MC) Spencer 75th minute, (R) Daulton 78th minute, (MC) Payne 78th minute
Shots (On goal): Ripley 20 (13), Mason County 21 (13)
Corner kicks: Ripley 6, Mason County 9
Saves: Ripley 11 (Saunders), Mason County 11 (Adams)
Records: Ripley 1-6-1, Mason County 4-3-3