School/Sports News for April 21

One thrilling victory and one disappointing defeat categorized Rappahannock boys soccer last week with an 8-1 win over Strasburg April 14 and a 3-1 loss to Manassas Park the next day.

In a highly anticipated away game against their long-time nemesis, the Panthers ruled the Rams in a tense battle.

“Within the first 10 minutes of the game, a Rams player got a red card for throwing a punch at one of our players,” coach Matt Gillispie said. “Then, within two or three minutes of that, Tanyon Lee made a cross inside the box and Case Kramer did a one-touch finish on it to get our first goal!”

Fueled by their frustration over the penalty, the Rams had a breakaway. “At the 26-minute mark, they tied the game up,” Gillispie said. “With four minutes left in the first half, Tanyon had an unassisted goal. He sent off a rocket shot that went through the keeper’s hands.”

Halftime gave Gillispie time to refocus his team and lead them out of the danger zone.

“I was a little frustrated with the boys,” he said. “The other team was playing with a player down, but they still picked their game up. I told the boys, we need to get better with possession and culminate passes to get some goals in. After halftime, that’s pretty much what they did.”

The second half opened with renewed Panther momentum. “Four minutes into the second half, on a corner kick from Amrit Tamang, Robbie Adams had a phenomenal goal,” Gillispie said. “That was our third goal.

“Only six minutes in, we got an assisted goal from Tanyon to Amrit. By 12 minutes, Tanyon kicked in an unassisted goal. Then the Rams fouled our player at the 13:45 mark, and James White scored on a penalty kick [PK].”

“At 15:30, we had an assist by Tanyon again to John Letsen. And around the 20-minute mark, Strasburg fouled us again in the box. Edwin Cruz took the PK, and the game ended, 8-1.”

“Basically, we just wore their team down. It was basically total domination in the second half. They had 13 shots, and we had 30 shots.”

“Our first district game was a great victory for us. They had a hometown crowd supporting them, and it was distracting in the first half. We talked about it at halftime and decided to take control of the game. That’s just what we did.”

Fueled by victory, the Panthers hosted Manassas Park High School on Friday night but couldn’t get the win. “They pretty much won the possession game . . . and their outside backs were great on the attacks,” Gillispie said.

“About 15 to 20 minutes into the first half, they only had three shots, and one was a PK. We fouled them in the box, and that took us to 1-0. Then they scored.”

“At halftime we were down 3-0. We told our guys to get more physical, be more aggressive, take more possessions. The boys shut down the Cougars with no goals in the second half. Amrit made a pass on a free kick then fired a shot that ricocheted off the keeper’s face, and Clayton Hatcher finished it off to get the goal.”

The Panthers certainly heeded their coach’s directives.

“I’ll credit my guys for coming out in the second half with more aggression,” Gillispie said. “We were able to finish 3-1. They should be proud of themselves for picking it up in the second half. I have to credit Rapp’s defense for stepping up. Ben Estes had a phenomenal game, made lots of great saves. James White, Billy Hogan, John Letsen and Brian Baumgardner were great as our back four.”

“Overall, we just got outplayed. We have to move on and focus on getting prepared for Clarke. We were hoping they’d come to us on Tuesday night and we’d pull out a victory, but the weather kept that from happening.”

The Panther’s next game is Tuesday (April 26), when they challenge Madison County on the Mountaineers’ field. This week’s rained-out game against Clarke County is rescheduled for May 5.

Lady Panthers district starts with win and miss

Rappahannock’s Lady Panthers varsity soccer opened their Bull Run District season last week with an at-home loss and a road-trip victory.

On Thursday (April 14), the Panthers hosted the Strasburg Rams for the first district play of the season. The girls battled a determined opponent and came away disappointed. Their 5-1 defeat left them no time for recovery as they boarded the bus on Friday (April 15) to take on the Manassas Park Cougars in the first district away game.

Travel weary and a bit discouraged from the previous night’s loss, the Panthers worked their way into a winning rhythm on Friday night.

“Coming into the game, we might not have been in the complete game mindset,” said senior Katie Hartman. “Thankfully we had more of our team together for the game and some of our fans cheering us on as always. I would say that during the second half, we definitely came back. We wanted to make sure that we were the ones getting the scoreboard up. Thanks to Danika Kritter taking the ball up the field, we got a goal!”

“As a team, we worked together much better, calmed down a bit,” Hartman said. “Even though we were worn out, we found more confidence. I think our goalie Paula [Accioly] may have gotten a little bit bored because we did a pretty good job at keeping the ball on our half of the field and taking as many shots as we could.”

Panthers dominated the Cougars 1-0 and ended their two consecutive games with a victory. After a Tuesday night (April 19) road trip rain cancellation with Clarke County, the Ladies look forward to their next home game at 7 on April 26 against the Madison County Mountaineers.

Baseball Panthers start district play disappointed

In the opening games of the Bull Run District season, double losses plagued Rappahannock’s varsity baseball team.

Last Thursday (April 14), the Panthers traveled to face the #2 team in Single A baseball, the Strasburg Rams. “We were more competitive than the 10-0 loss indicated,” coach John Lesinski said. Player parent and spectator Amy Hitt added, “Our young team hung tough. Rams got the win, but the Panthers played well.”

Rappahannock had its struggles and triumphs on the Strasburg mound. Senior Matt Fletcher started the game and allowed five runs over the first two innings. He lasted until the third inning when, according to Hitt, “he looked like he pulled something. The Rams scored three runs after Fletcher was hurt.”

Lesinski brought up John Mills who “came on in relief in the third but was roughed up for five more runs in the fourth. He threw five pitches and retired the side. In the top of the fourth, we could not take advantage of the breath of fresh air Mills gave us. The Rams finally managed to score five runs off Mills in the bottom of the fourth.”

In the top of the fifth, with the strength of the Panther lineup to bat, the team was trying to rally. John Mills was the leadoff batter. He struck out. Dylan Hitt had a solid double to get on base, then Garfield Burke was hit by a pitch to get on base. Brandon Walker struck out.

“With two outs and two on base,” Lesinski said, “Fletcher had a single which loaded bases for the second time in the ball game. David Williams hit the ball hard, but the sure glove of the Rams shortstop threw Williams out at first to end the game.”

There were limited errors on the Panthers end, but the passed balls are what hurt them at home plate. The team never quit and certainly had its chances to score against a loaded Strasburg squad which has been picked to win the district.

“The Panther nine returned to action the next evening at Manassas Park and battled the Cougars step for step,” Lesinski said. “We were only 1-0 through four innings behind Walker, an exceptional pitcher. But the home team broke it open in the fifth with six runs as they sent 10 men to the plate. Dylan Hitt came on in relief to record the final out, but Manassas Park added two more runs in the sixth to match the Panther’s run production in the top of the frame.

“In the visiting half of the sixth inning, Hitt and Walker drew walks, followed by singles from Grayson Love and Evan Hitt to narrow the score to 7-2. But that was all the offense the Panthers could muster as they dropped to 0-2 in district with a 9-2 loss.”

The team was scheduled to return to action by traveling to Clarke County on Tuesday night and playing their third away district game in six days. The game was rained out. The Panther varsity baseball team returns to action with the first home game of the district season against Madison at 7 p.m. Tuesday (April 26).

RMA students recognized for academic achievement

Grace Alexander earned a grade point average of 4.0 or better during the third quarter of Randolph-Macon Academy’s 2010-11 school year. The daughter of Mindy and Lyle Alexander of Woodville was named to the President’s List at the Front Royal school, where she is a freshman.

Sean Knick II, the son of Sean and Debbie Knick of Washington, made the Dean’s List for the third quarter. The junior achieved a grade point average between 3.3 and 4.0.

Megan Humbles graduates from VT

Megan Humbles, from Washington, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography from the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech. The commencement ceremony was held in December in Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, where Humbles was among 2,500 candidates receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

Mike Costello

WCDS athletic director wins two NIAAA awards

Mike Costello, Wakefield Country Day School’s athletic director, received two awards at the recent statewide conference of athletic administrators in Norfolk. The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association gave him a certificate “in recognition of 20 years of outstanding service in athletic administration.” And the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrator’s Association presented him with its 20 Year Award for “outstanding work and service.”

Costello has worked and coached at several area schools for and has led Wakefield’s athletics program for the past two years.