The Loudoun County Raiders and the Riverside Rams combined to score 11 goals in splitting their two regular-season match-ups.
In the Dulles District girls’ soccer tournament championship game Wednesday night in Leesburg, sophomore Brooke Kirstein and junior Taylor Kibble would provide all the scoring the host Raiders would need in a 2-0 win versus the Rams.
After an uneven start to the season, the Raiders have found their stride under first-year head coach Olivia Mackey.
“We hit a rough patch early in the season and I think a lot of people in this district started to doubt us,” said Mackey, a former soccer standout for the Raiders.
Late in the first half, Kirstein scored with an assist from Kibble to put County on top.
Riverside, who advanced to the title game following a win in penalty kicks versus top seed Woodgrove, was unable to solve the Raider defense and junior goalkeeper Jenelle Manni in the first half.
“I always try to give it my best and all in order to prevent the other team from scoring,” said Manni.
The beginning of the second half looked promising for Riverside. With junior goalkeeper Celia Eitzel making big saves to keep her team within striking distance, junior Caroline Ong and freshman Caroline Mandgroc barely missed on chances to pull the Rams even.
Following the close calls, it did not take long for Kirstein and Kibble to connect again. This time, it was Kibble scoring off an assist from Kirstein to extend County’s lead to 2-0.
“As a forward, scoring is what I do,” said Kibble, who has set the Raiders’ single-season scoring record with 40 goals.
With momentum on the home team’s side, Riverside’s pace slowed as the final minutes on the game clock expired.
“That [second] goal scored at the end took the wind out of our sail but we had opportunities,” said Riverside head coach Chris Frank. “If we would have made the goal before they scored their second goal, who knows what could have been.”
The Raiders continue on their quest to reach the state playoffs. Loudoun County will travel to Nokesville May 29 to play Kettle Run in the first round of the Region 4C tournament.
“Our team goal from the beginning of the season was to get past the district round and get into the state round,” said Mackey. “This was just another stepping stone to our goal.”