GW's Haley Claudio (left) kicks the ball away from Hurricane's Kristen Kirkpatrick.
Practice made perfect for George Washington on Tuesday evening.The Patriots scored the tying and winning goals on set plays in handing Hurricane its first loss of the season, a 3-2 decision. A crowd of about 50 attended the Class AAA matchup of state-ranked girls high school soccer teams at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium in Coonskin Park.GW senior Haley Claudio sent a free kick toward the left post and sophomore Kasey Rhodes put a head on the ball and sent it into the net to knot the game at 2-all with 2:22 left in the game.The No. 5 Patriots (11-1-1) were awarded a free kick less than a minute later after Rhodes and a Hurricane player collided, sending Rhodes to the turf woozy, and she eventually had to have help walking off. Claudio was called on again and delivered, putting the ball about 12 yards in front of the goal and senior Charlie Lucente headed the ball into the net for a 3-2 edge with 1:25 to go."It was crazy,'' beamed Claudio. "It's so fun. A lot of us play travel against [Hurricane's] girls. They're a great team and I'm so happy we came back."We definitely know how to work when we need to, but it's just amazing how we all come together when it really counts. We've been working on set pieces. I guess when it comes down to it, everyone knows their role and we just finish our chances.''After Lucente's score, No. 2 Hurricane (13-1-1) worked the ball into GW's right corner but was whistled for offside and never mounted another threat. GW sophomore keeper Olivia Miller turned aside five shots, including several diving stops of attempts at point-blank range."We spent almost a whole practice [Monday] working on free kicks and last week we put an emphasis on corner kicks,'' said GW first-year coach Derek Ragle. "That's the first corner kick we've scored on all year. You're up and you're down, but it's a mark of a good team that you don't give up. We came back and kept fighting until the very end and got the win.''
Ragle said Tuesday's win was also validation for his players, who received no Mountain State Athletic Conference first-team selections at Sunday's coaches meeting."I think I'm doing pretty good with honorable mentions out here,'' the GW coach said. "I told the girls your peer teams didn't vote for you for all-conference. That's either a lack of respect or ... I think they used that for motivation and I think they're going to use that all year long.''Lucente tallied an unassisted goal with 3:28 left in the opening half to stake GW to a 1-0 lead at halftime. After gathering a loose ball from about 20 yards out, she turned around and floated a shot just over Hurricane sophomore keeper Hannah Thompson's head.Redskins senior Brittany Minor tied it at 1-1 with 14:57 remaining in the second half after taking the ball away from GW senior Maddi Wymer, dribbling in and placing the ball into the upper right of the goal. Sophomore Abby Watson put Hurricane ahead 2-1 at the 13:56 mark after shooting one off Miller then flicking in the rebound."I thought the first half we really didn't play our game,'' said Hurricane coach Shelly Young. "The girls really responded quite well in the second half."Both teams had their opportunities, but GW did a better job of finishing. I'm proud of the way my girls battled and never gave up. [Our players] don't like how they feel right now and I think they're going to do everything they can in practice and games to avoid having this feeling again.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.