Russellville girls nab first-ever soccer win
By Kim West for the FCT
When a school starts a girls soccer program, it’s commonplace to go one or two seasons without a win while playing against well-established teams – or to experience being mercy-ruled, which means being outscored by ten goals at any point in the second half of a match. But a young and resilient Russellville girls team is defying the odds after opening its inaugural season with a 3-0 loss to Haleyville Feb. 16 and a 2-0 loss to Tanner Feb. 21. In only their third game, the Lady Golden Tigers dug deep to claim an exhilarating 3-2 double-overtime win against Ardmore (0-3, 0-1) in Class 4A-5A, Area 16 play.
After a scoreless first half, Russellville (1-2, 1-0) fell behind on a penalty kick by Ardmore forward Katie Taylor. Then the Lady Golden Tigers knotted the score at 1-1 on a Carmen Perez corner kick that deflected off an Ardmore defender for their first-ever goal.
Russellville freshman striker Zayra Perez corralled a rebound opportunity created by a Gisel Perez shot and collision with the Ardmore keeper, grabbing a 2-1 lead in the final minute. But Ardmore earned a direct kick in the closing seconds of regulation, with Taylor curling in a masterful shot around the Russellville defensive wall and in the upper left corner of the goal to send the game into overtime.
Neither team netted a golden goal in the first half of overtime, with each half allotted five minutes if necessary. Two minutes into the second overtime, Zayra Perez sent the ball toward the goal, and Gisel Perez slammed it home while running back-post.
“It was a great game. Our girls believed they could win the ballgame, and my job is making sure they believe they can win every game,” Russellville Head Coach Trey Stanford said. “That goal by Ardmore to make it 2-2 was like a dagger in the heart, but our girls never gave up.”
A driving force for the team’s early success has been a never-quit defense and nimble freshman goalkeeper Briana Ramirez, who has 22 saves in three games.
“Honestly, our keeper is unbelievable because we’ve been shot on a lot. I knew I needed to have someone stronger in goal because most of our players have never played soccer,” Stanford said. “But they see their boys play and know what’s expected in Russellville. They know they have to come to play every night.”
Friday and Saturday, the Lady Golden Tigers will play Tanner, Boaz and Hazel Green in the River City Shootout at Jack Allen Recreation Complex in Decatur. They will play at Ardmore at 5 p.m. March 7.