The James River Knights girls’ soccer team traveled to Salem High School for an opening night match Monday against a Spartan team with high expectations. The weather was beautiful, a rarity for March soccer, and a nice crowd showed up at Salem’s Spartan Field to watch the host Salemites take a 5-0 win.
“Other than the score, it was a good night,” said River coach Bill Smith. “You can’t expect that kind of weather on opening night for soccer, and the field at Salem is awesome.
The Spartans got on the board early after a high-paced five minutes of play. Audrey Hayes fired an outside shot high and dropped just below the crossbar for the opening goal. Although Salem had several chances and the game was fast-paced, the James River defense held them off. The Knights had a few offensive drives but could not connect and went into intermission down 1-0.
Brooke Bowers scored for the Spartans in the second minute of the second half, converting after a fast run down her left side. Again the Knights held back the larger Spartans for some time, but eventually, they wore down, giving up a third goal midway through the half when Eliza Fleenor scored. Avery Mangus scored shortly after, and Bowers notched a second goal with nine minutes remaining to close out the scoring.
James River’s freshman Goalkeeper, Kylee Aaron, was busy with 15 saves on the night, while Allison Kessel had three saves for the Spartans.
“I think our team will be solid this year,” said Smith. “We gave the much bigger, talented Salem team about 60 minutes of good soccer before we faded late. We have a very young team, and I am proud of how they are growing together.”
The Knights play next at Rockbridge County on Monday, March 21.
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