Stringing together a consistent match the full 80 minutes has been the focus this month for the Ravenwood High School girls soccer team. Unfortunately, just getting to play has been a struggle for the defending Class AAA state champions due to weather woes and COVID-19 issues with opponents.
On Tuesday – in just their fifth match of the season – the Lady Raptors produced an overwhelming attack and maintained possession most of the contest to hand defending Division II-A champion Battle Ground Academy a 6-1 loss.
“They are a good team and they won state last year, too, so we have a lot of respect for them,” Ravenwood senior Nora Henderson said of BGA. “We came in and just focused on settling down and playing to each other’s feet to kind of let the ball do the work.”
Henderson scored one goal and assisted on two others Tuesday. Teammate Anna Major added two tallies as Ravenwood showed fast growth from a 1-1 District 12-AAA tie at Independence last week.
“I feel like at Indy, we were kind of frantic at times,” said Major, also a senior. “But in this game, we slowed it down and played with each other so it really felt like another day at practice.”
Practices lately must be pretty good at Ravenwood, because the Lady Raptors controlled the ball right from the start Tuesday, scoring within the first 90 seconds when Major scored on a header by using her chin to deflect a Henderson corner into the back of the net. In the fifth, Sarah Kate Rath tracked down a long ball from Bella Macaso and converted a left-footed shot on the move to make it 2-0.
After a big save from BGA backup keeper Beth Fleming, Henderson served a free kick into the box and Josie Rickets got a step on a BGA defender to finish with a header for a 3-0 lead in the 11th.
“Our last game, we played really well in the first half like we did tonight,” Ravenwood coach Jessica Mancini said. “But in the second half we weren’t really making the connections we needed, so tonight we really focused on this game to make sure and bring that first half mentality into the second half and the girls really did that.”
Henderson scored on a rocket in the 24th and the Lady Raptors led 4-0 at the half as several younger players were consistently worked into the Ravenwood lineup. The Lady Raptors managed to out-shoot BGA 12-4 in the opening 40 minutes and 23-6 for the match.
Major scored her second goal in the opening minutes of the second half after Marcella Ferrero Pretto served up a ball into the box. Pretto nearly scored a minute later, but her hard-hit shot banged off the crossbar and her rebound was deflected just enough by Fleming. Gracie Hill scored the final goal for the home team in the 64th with the assist going to Rath.
“Ravenwood, they are an army of soccer players that are all very knowledgeable,” Lady Wildcats coach Jan Morrissey said. “They know the game and played with an intensity while never taking their foot off the gas tonight.
“That’s a level we have not seen this season … what an experience for our girls to go through that. Regardless of the score, we are using this as a training session to try and get better.”
Kennedy Price consistently zipped around the field to produce key touches for BGA before Sara Evans floated a long shot into the back of the net in the 69th. Eva Schreiber had a takeaway late in the first half, but her shot was tipped by Ravenwood keeper Lexi Grundler and slammed into the left post. Schrieber’s rebound sailed just wide.
The Lady Wildcats moved to 9-3 overall and were coming off a 9-0 win against St. Cecilia Academy Thursday. BGA heads into a district match at Middle Tennessee Christian Thursday.
Ravenwood (3-0-2) steps back into District 12-AAA play Thursday with a trip to Franklin.
“We know they will be coming for us,” Major said of the rivalry matchup across Interstate 65. “We will try to come out as strong as we can.
“We all have something to uphold and we hold each other to a high standard because we are state champs and we expect the best from each and everyone. We have to represent well.”
Thursday's match wasn't the first time this season Williamson County defending state champions met in head-to-head battles. Brentwood, the seven-time defending Class AAA volleyball champions, has faced Nolensville, the defending Class AA champs, several times this season. The last meeting on Saturday went to the Lady Bruins during a tournament in Franklin.