RCHS sports roundup for April 26

Panther boys stay busy on the soccer pitch

Rappahannock’s boys varsity soccer treated its fans to an eventful week on the road with one loss and one win.

On Tuesday, Panthers faced Bull Run District powerhouse, Clarke County for a 5-0 defeat. Rappahannock (4-4-1) held Clarke (8-1) to a scoreless first half. Clarke was able to open the second half with an unfortunate own-goal from the Panthers and four more second half goals to finish the game 5-0.

“I thought we had a strong first half against Clarke’s very good team,” said coach James Lofton. “Clarke was strong in every position and fielded two great athletes at the forward position. The first goal against us was unlucky. They were pressing hard to get a goal, and we had our hands full, but it’s still unfortunate to help them along by conceding an own-goal.

The second and third goals were well-deserved Clarke points. “They’re a great team,” Lofton said, “well coached, and they have dangerous forwards. However, I was disappointed in my boys’ performance late in the second half. We shouldn’t have allowed the fourth or fifth goals. They were the result of mental lapses. Our battle is that we have to deal with shallow numbers and fatigue late in the game. [Panthers have only 14 players]. Fatigue leads to mental lapses. Mental lapses lead to mistakes on defense, and mistakes on defense lead to goals. Goals then further lead to distraction and more mental lapses. However, the team is learning how to counter these, and the boys individually are learning that positive encouragement and support go a long way.  When demonstrated by the whole team, this encouragement and support can give us the necessary lift to offset the challenges of low roster numbers and fatigue.

“During our Clarke game,” Lofton said, “team captain Matt Lombardi and defender Clayton Hatcher both exemplified the kind of positive leadership I am looking for from everybody. I think as the team grows and sustained positive encouragement becomes an innate characteristic of the whole team, a byproduct will be that we’ll play even our toughest opponents to closer and closer games.”

Friday’s match (April 20) against the Mountaineers witnessed the Panther win, 2-0.

In a repeat of their last three games, Rappahannock ended the first half 0-0. “All week we worked on and talked about the importance of a solid second half performance,” Lofton said. “We rotated much more in the second half and saw strong performances from Edwin Garcia, Alex Jung, Andrew Oyster and Brian Baumgardner. Brian and Andrew played just about every position on the field, and Edwin and Alex gave us a necessary boost in the waning minutes of the game. After Clarke, we stressed the importance of a whole-team effort of encouragement and positive energy. I thought the team responded remarkably and Amrit Tamang was able to notch the first goal of the game from a hard, no angle shot from the corner. Defender Clayton Hatcher, secured his fourth goal of the season with a well-placed header off of a corner from Amrit Tamang. The Panthers were able to hold the lead for the remainder of the game to produce their fourth win of the season.

“I am really proud of how the boys have grown and are learning the effect of hard work, gentlemanly behavior, and encouragement,” Lofton said. “I think the win against Madison was a product of all these things.

Off the field, on Saturday (April 21) the team left the high school early for a day of community service at Lynn Care in Front Royal.

Lofton mandates that the boys complete individual as well as team community service. The boys give two hours of individual community service, and the team dedicates three practice days, as well as one weekend day, to community service or “servant-leadership,” as Lofton calls it. On Saturday, the team spent a large part of the day with long-term care patients and older in-patients at the Front Royal Hospital. The team conducted and played bingo, interacted with patients, washed outdoor patios, sanded benches, and finished the day with a team meal.

“It was a wonderful experience for us,” Lofton said. “For me, this is what it’s really and truly about: servant-leadership. I think we are all challenged to give to people who are less fortunate than we are and ask nothing in return. The boys were able to go out and practice a little of what we talk about day in and day out. And, in the end, we do actually get wonderful things back. Through these experiences, the boys are able to bond and find joy in their ability to serve others’ needs. Our goal is to be standard-setters, and we further that errand by working in the community. We constantly want to raise the bar for ourselves and others.”

Junior varsity soccer: a tie and a loss

On the road with the varsity team, Panther JV players tallied one loss in Clarke (April 17) and a tie match in Madison (April 20).

“We played well [in Madison],” said keeper Daniel Schlosser. “We scored early on in the first half. Towards end of second half they had a breakaway. One agile guy had one little tap into the goal and I just couldn’t reach it.”

Clarke presented more of a challenge for Rappahannock. “That was a rougher game,” Schlosser said. “There were a lot of arms out, which is illegal. The refs weren’t calling those, and it put us at a disadvantage because of our physical size. We had a PK and a couple of different shots, some things just didn’t click together, and that’s when they score. A lot of their team was taller, and we have guys who aren’t as big yet.

“Overall, we are doing really well this year,” Schlosser said, “especially compared to the teams we are going up against. Sometimes we look across the field and see an opponent who has an entire separate team on its bench. We have such few subs. We are either dealing with injuries or someone being sick, but we are still doing well.”

RCHS softball: two losses |

Panther softball suffered two home losses last week against Bull Run District rivals, Clarke and Madison.

On Tuesday night (April 17), Clarke dominated the field and took away a 13-0 win. “We could not hit the ball,” coach Andy Hipple said. “We mustered only one hit all game. Defensively, we gave up a few runs in every inning. We just could not stop the Eagles.

Panthers met their Madison challenge with a bit more success on Friday (April 20) but suffered a 14-5 loss.

“We started off slow,” sophomore Maddie Kopjanski said, “but after the second inning, we just took off: hitting, fielding, batting…it just wasn’t enough. They were a good team, and they were able to make their plays. It is also really hard to come back from a deficit.”

Hipple noted the girls’ tenacity. “Even in the loss, we had some good plays,” he said. “The fifth inning saw us come to life. We scored four runs on three hits and a Lyndie Paul bunt not fielded cleanly by Madison.”

“Our team has a lot of potential,” Kopjanski said, “but we keep having really bad innings. We do really well and all of a sudden, it seems like we don’t follow through. We have the potential to beat every team in the district.”

“We still have some work to do,” Hipple said, “but the talent is here to turn around games. We maintained positive support even when we misplayed several routine outs. Chelsy Costello had the best game of her career. She caught three fly outs in center field alone, hit two singles and earned a walk.”

Lyndie Paul contributed a single and double. Peyton Bailey added three singles, and Casey Fletcher hit a single and double. Pitcher Caitlin Miller came in the sixth inning and shut down Madison’s big hitters by allowing only five flyball outs.

Lady Panthers continue to maintain the power of positive attitudes and determination. Their next at bat was Wednesday (April 25) against Manassas Park. The results will appear in next week’s Rappahannock News.

– M.D.

Panther pitching improves but Mountaineers prevail |

Panther baseball unleashed some strong pitching and tallied some hits but still suffered a home field 5-2 loss to Madison on Friday (April 20).

“It was a good game for us,” said coach Jake Kezele. Dylan Hitt pitched six strong innings for the Panthers. He gave up only four hits and struck out four batters. Evan Hitt cracked two hits, followed by Grayson Love, Brandon Walker, and Bradlee Frye with one hit each.

“Lately I’ve been working on a new pitch, a splitter,” said Dylan Hitt. “It got to the point. The first time I used it, it was a strike out. Coach told me to keep it up, and I ended up getting a lot of ground balls out of it. I think I’ll keep using it. It’s too bad that I didn’t do as well at the plate. I just kept rolling over the ball and hitting it right to them in the field.”

Hitting it “right to them” was the costly problem of the game. “When Madison got their hits,” Hitt said, “they seemed to go in the gaps. For us, it seemed like all our hits when directly to somebody. When we’d hit, it would go right to somebody in centerfield.”

It was the Panther’s first meeting with the Mountaineers. They will have plenty of time to hone their strategies to meet Madison again in mid-May.