Tonight's Appomattox Raiders vs. Bluestone Barons varsity girls soccer game played out as if two prize fighters stood toe-to-toe for 15 rounds in an even match when one delivered a knockout blow just before the final bell of the final round.
In the second overtime period of a scoreless game that saw stellar defensive play from both teams and four play stoppages due to injured players lying on the field, a miracle of sorts was needed to keep the game from ending in a tie with under a minute to play.
Josey Walton of Appomattox lined up for a free kick from the right just beyond midfield and belted a high cannon shot toward the goalie box. Taylor Fulcher headed the ball and tracked it down, taking possession in the box. Fulcher weaved to the right corner trying to find an open lane while closely guarded by a Baron defender. Turning around and steering back to the left, Fulcher created enough separation to make a play on the goal, then found Abby Ranson open in the middle. Fulcher's pass inside set up perfectly for Ranson, who kicked the ball into the right corner of the net with just seconds to play.
When the final whistle blew just moments later, the Raiders celebrated what was perhaps their toughest and most satisfying win of the season. In any case, they appeared mightily relieved that the game ended in their favor.
Raiders head coach Brian Robinson was proud of the girls for pressing through until the very end in the stringent defensive battle.
"I think it just shows teamwork, guts and determination when you've already played 80 minutes, and now you're in the last minute of the tenth minute of overtime. They just dug deep and they kept getting (after) it, and it happened, and they made it happen. So, it is both a moral victory and a physical victory," Robinson said.
Appomattox (3-1-2) barely avoided their third tie of the 2019 season in only six games. They next play Monday at Chatham. Game time is 6 p.m.
For the rest of the story, see the April 17 edition of the Times Virginian.