Stone Bridge keeps its footing in boys' soccer win over Robinson
During football season, Stone Bridge's field provided the perfect home-field advantage in the state semifinals when it turned into a mud bowl as the Bulldogs topped a Massaponax team that saw its quickness nullified by the drudge.
On Friday evening, the scars from the same torn-up field in Ashburn again provided a home-field advantage for the No. 2 Bulldogs, as top-ranked Robinson (5-1, 1-0 Virginia AAA Concorde) struggled to maintain possession on the pockmarked pitch and Stone Bridge used a first-half penalty kick from Abdul Shaban to top the Rams, 1-0, in a battle of the area's best.
"That's what you want to be: number one," Shaban said. "Everyone is going to be gunning for us now."
The Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0 Virginia AAA Liberty) were accustomed to the field and chose their spots to possess throughout the game, otherwise using the long diagonal ball with the wind at their back to pin Robinson in its own defensive third for much of the first half.
The game's lone goal, however, was set up by individual hustle.
Stone Bridge senior forward Christian Salinas challenged a Robinson defender and blocked his attempted clearance, then chased the ball down and tapped it around the goalkeeper, who promptly took Salinas down, and the ref quickly whistled for a penalty.
Shaban stepped up and buried it to the left side in the upper netting, later acknowledging he hadn't intended to go top shelf.
Despite the one goal lead, however, Stone Bridge spent much of the second half on its heels and in its own half fighting the wind and an aggressive Robinson team in search of the equalizer.
"In the second half [the direct style] worked against us," Shaban said. "Every time we tried to go forward it came right back in our face. We just had to stay focused. . . . From that point on every body stepped up."
Fredrikson lifts girls' team
The penalty call was somewhat questionable, but Stone Bridge junior defender Emily Fredrikson left little doubt with her spot kick, sending a powerful shot into the lower right corner to lift the No. 9 Bulldogs to a 1-0 win over No. 10 Robinson in the second game of the doubleheader in Ashburn.
In a fast-paced contest that saw much of its action take place in the middle third of the field with most quality chances coming in the first half, it took Fredrikson's late penalty kick call to break the stalemate.
Murielle Tiernan did well to beat her defender on the end line with 5 minutes 39 seconds remaining in the game but was stopped on a strong challenge by a Robinson defender, who connected with the ball in what appeared to be a 50-50-type challenge. The ball rolled toward the top of the box and after a couple seconds the ref whistled for a penalty.
"I think I hit her leg but she kind of took me out too," Tiernan said. "It could have gone either way."
It was a crucial win for Stone Bridge (4-0-1, 2-0 Virginia AAA Liberty), which was missing two key players and wanted revenge after being knocked out of the Virginia AAA Northern Region playoffs by Robinson (2-3-2, 0-2 Virginia AAA Concorde) last year.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the first half, though both had their share of chances.
Stone Bridge hit the crossbar 12 minutes into the game and had two more solid chances in the half -- the best came on a counterattack with just seconds left before the half, but Ashley Herndon wasn't able to catch up to an effort from Tiernan and the ball slid just wide of the far post.
Robinson pressured the Bulldogs' defense on occasion, too, and Brigitte Kuter's shot gave the goalkeeper some work as the rain started to come down.
But in the second half neither team threatened with more than a half-chance, and it took Tiernan's late run and Fredrikson's well-placed penalty to settle the outcome.
"It was a lot of playing in the middle, not a lot of possession," Fredrikson said. "We didn't want to give up, we kept going and Murielle made a great run down the sideline and got us that [penalty]."
-- Paul Tenorio
washingtonpost.com Sports Editor
April 17, 2010; 12:39 AM ET
Categories: Robinson , Stone Bridge High School
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