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Raiders girls score three first-half goals, defeat Pax

By JAMES A. McCRAY III

Staff writer

Five minutes into the game, Kayla Ruiz just barely missed a crossing pass, which would have scored the first goal of Leonardtown’s girls soccer contest with the visiting Patuxent Panthers on Tuesday night.

Three minutes later, Ruiz sent a shot toward the goal that was saved by Patuxent goalie Sharde Jackson.

One minute later, the Leonardtown intensity and offensive prowess finally powered through when Laura Shaner dribbled past one Patuxent defender and hit the corner of the net for the game’s first goal, seven minutes from the opening whistle.

That offensive pressure led to three Leonardtown first-half goals and its 3-0 halftime lead would hold form until the game’s final whistle, delivering the Raiders a 3-0 victory, its second consecutive.

“I wasn’t sure about taking it or not,” Shaner said of her goal. “But, in that case, I was thinking, ‘All right, we’re just going to go for it.’ We needed a goal, we needed to score and our coach always tells us to take the opportunity.”

In addition to the win, Shaner added, “They [Patuxent] were good competition. I thought we came out with intensity and had a really good first half. We were able to score early on, so that was definitely a plus. … I am really happy to come away with a win, for sure.”

With the opening half winding down, Ruiz finally finished an opportunity by knocking in the game’s second goal. Then just before halftime, Jocilyn Skinner headed in a corner pass from Brooke Senatore for the third and final goal for Leonardtown (7-2, 6-2 SMAC) and head coach Jennifer Henderson.

“I thought we came out with good intensity from the start and played good possession soccer,” Henderson admitted. “It was slick out on the field, so I thought it was very important to keep possession of the ball and play to each other’s feet. We were successful at keeping possession and playing nice passes.”

Leonardtown defender Alyssa Bois played a key role as the Raiders protected their lead by limiting Patuxent to only two shots on goal throughout the contest.

“I think our defense works really well together because we’re able to shift and take the position of other players when they go to the ball,” Bois said. “I think we just communicate and work well together back there.”

Leonardtown now has four regular-season games remaining on its schedule, including a contest with undefeated Huntingtown at 6 p.m. Monday, a makeup of an Oct. 2 postponement, and will look to carry momentum into that contest along with momentum into the playoffs.

“I think we just need to keep up with practicing hard each day,” Shaner said. “We have to come out each game ready to play from the start. … I think we’re capable of winning, but we just need to fulfill that potential.”

Henderson added, “We just have to come out prepared for every game. We have had some games where we haven’t put together two halves. We’ve had one good half or, typically, we’re a second-half team. To be successful in the postseason, we’re going to have to come out strong from the beginning.”

Patuxent head coach Rico Aris called the loss on Tuesday, “another eye-opener.”

“We started off slow again and that’s what happened in our first loss to North Point,” Aris said. “The girls came out and possessed the ball alright, but got beat on some long balls on our defense.”

Aris did, however, watch as Jackson saved nine shots in the loss.

“Our girls played good,” Aris said. “The best thing I can say we did were possess and move the ball, but we just didn’t get enough shots off, I mean, shots count.”

Patuxent (7-2, 7-2) will host Calvert at 6 tonight.

jmccray@somdnews.com