Day of firsts: Lady Pats, Viqs kickstart soccer
First goal. First assist. First save. First game.
It was a series of firsts for a pair of soccer programs playing their schools' inaugural matches as Community Junior High and Liberty Middle faced off amidst one of the hottest days of the year on Tuesday.
The bugs, sweat and humidity didn't damper the spirits of either team and the crowd praised the efforts of their young ladies enthusiastically as yet another Bedford County rivalry was born.
Three second-half goals from the Viqueens broke a two-all tally at intermission for a 5-2 victory for the visitors.
"You can't beat it. This is what we were hoping for," said Viqueen coach Mark Neill, who's in his first year of coaching at Community after graduating from there in 1996.
"We've had a lot of support from the community. We've had several individuals who have stepped up and made sizable donations to allow us to get equipment, goals, paint to stripe the fields and for everything."
The loss did little to dampen the spirits of the Lady Patriots, who took the field with their feet barely touching the ground after their school threw a pep rally to kick the season off right.
Liberty coach Shannon Dearing, along with assistants Jason Martin and Jason Armstrong, who have "helped out tremendously," are teaming up to improve the product on the field after getting aid to simply start soccer.
"We have a PATS booster club and without them we couldn't have gotten the program off the ground," Dearing said.
"We've had a lot of girls that have played in town. This gives them the opportunity to play with their home school."
Allyse Reece had a one-on-one with Lady Pat keeper Erin Reeves and took full advantage by netting the first score of the game at the nine-minute mark.
Riley Richardson answered for Liberty just over eight minutes later from the center of penalty box with their initial goal. She took an assist from Cassi Cassady about 100 seconds later to give the Red, White and Blue a 2-1 lead.
Community's Kelley Anderson rocketed a ball into the twine from nearly 30 yards out to even matters up.
The Purple and Gold owned the second half from whistle to whistle as Reece scored her second goal a minute in.
Anderson, Lety Pena, Livvie Esslinger and other forwards were able to dribble the ball upfield unmarked on several occasions to set up their scoring attack.
"We did keep the ball on the offensive end of the field a lot of the time," Neill said. "Obviously the more you do that, the more you'll have opportunities to score. We've got a lot of girls that have experience from playing rec. league growing up."
Esslinger took the upper hand to 4-2. Anderson netted the final net-thinner with three minutes to play.
"It was a solid effort all around," said Neill, praising both his offense and defense. "The game is often times won by your midfielders. They are the ones who kept the ball in front of them."
The Viqueens get the chance to entertain their home crowd for the first time on Friday night at 7 as South Middle makes the drive over from Winchester.
"I just hope we can maintain momentum," Neill said. "I'm real excited to be back in Unionville and coaching a brand new sport down there."
Liberty hits the road for their second match, getting their chance at South Middle on Saturday morning at 10.
"We've had a few play days the last few weekends, and we've improved a lot since that first play day," Dearing said. "We just need to keep working hard, keep practicing hard and with more practice and time, it's going to come around."