05/07/06 — Crow, Best provide offense in victory over Ridgecroft

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Crow, Best provide offense in victory over Ridgecroft

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 7, 2006 2:11 AM

Less than two minutes into Friday afternoon's match, Wayne Country Day junior Georgia Crow zipped between two Ridgecroft defenders and got loose for an uncontested shot on goal.

Crow barely missed a right-footed strike on frame.

The defensive lapse drew the ire of Ridgecroft's coaches.

"Watch number nine!" they shouted.

The Rams barely challenged Crow, who side-stepped her way and cranked out three consecutive shots on goal -- all misses. But the quick-footed forward continued firing and finally connected on her fifth attempt.

Crow proceeded to collect the natural hat trick (three straight goals) with an 18-minute span as the state-ranked Chargers rolled to a 4-0 shutout in the Classes 1-A/2-A Coastal Plains Independent Conference affair. Wayne Country Day (11-6) improved to 6-3 against league opposition heading into its regular-season finale against Faith Christian-Rocky Mount on Monday afternoon.

Ridgecroft (1-12) remained winless in nine CPIC contests.

The Chargers concluded the week 2-1 and rebounded from a disappointing overtime loss Tuesday at Kerr-Vance.

"We were still coming down from our loss to Kerr-Vance," said first-year WCDS coach Paul Estrada. "It really hit us hard because we were in that game the whole time and just lost in the last second.

"We took this game to work on stuff we had been doing in practice."

Neither team utilized its midfield in the opening 10 minutes. Crow's shots on goal occurred off turnovers on the Rams' side of the field. Teammates Virginia Best, Kayla Flanagan and Whitney Nagel each just missed shots that sailed wide of the post or over the crossbar.

Once the Chargers began using the width of the field and stretching out the Ram defense, they created better goal-scoring opportunities.

Best ran onto a loose ball outside the Ridgecroft box and flicked a pass to Crow. Crow stayed onside and got free for a one-on-one against Rams keeper Sarah Beth Greene. Greene made a cleat save on Crow's first shot, but Crow gathered the deflection and knocked it into the net in the 14th minute.

Wayne Country Day, the state 1-A runner-up last season, kept possession on Ridgecroft's side for most of the opening half after Crow's goal.

Nagel, the Chargers' lone senior, spearheaded the next goal. She stepped into an open space and intercepted a pass by the Rams. Nagel kicked the ball forward to Crow, who made a run in the heart of Ridgecroft's defense.

Greene appeared shielded on the play and before she could react, Crow scored for the 2-0 advantage. Crow (27 goals for season) completed the hat trick in the 32nd minute on a right-footed shot from the left side to the back post.

Best added the final goal -- her 18th of the season -- in the 36th minute.

"I would prefer to see them take more of a midfield role, and have somebody to step up and be the commander on the field," said Estrada. "My senior (Nagel) does a great job, but she hasn't been playing all that long. What she lacks in talent, she makes up for in hustle and aggressiveness.

"I never have to question her about that."

Estrada used the second half as preparation for the upcoming N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs, which begin either next Friday or Saturday. The Chargers worked the ball down the sides and crossed back to the middle to Nagel, who fired five shots on frame.

Greene saved four shots, while another rolled wide of the post.

"I'm pleased with the way they're coming around, not only in the games but in the practices," said Estrada, whose team owned a 25-8 edge in shots on goal. "They're really paying attention and working hard. If we get a little tougher on the defense and in midfield, we'll be unstoppable."

Charger keeper Ellen Elmore, a freshman, earned the shutout.