Fairfax The Robinson Secondary girls' soccer team opened the second half of the season with a close 2-1 road loss at Chantilly High earlier this week on Tuesday, April 10. It was the Concorde District opener for the Rams, whose record stood at 3-2-1 following the setback to the highly-ranked Chargers.
Few girls' soccer teams across the Northern Region probably needed last week's spring break to rest and mend like Robinson, which has faced an assortment of injuries thus far. Rams' head coach Jim Rike, going into the Chantilly game, was looking forward to his squad getting into the district portion of its schedule but disappointed the spring break week, in which the Rams did not have any scheduled games, had not resulted in more girls being healthy enough to get back on the field for the Chargers.
"It's always a very competitive game," said Rike, before his team's meeting with the Chargers. "But it will be complicated by the fact we will be missing two to three starters due to injuries. I had hoped that having a week off might improve our situation but at [a recent] training, we had 12 out of 20 able to train - the rest were sitting out with injuries of various nature."
Hopefully for Robinson, players will return to the lineup shortly and the Rams will gain some continuity by the time the postseason comes around with the Concorde District Tournament in mid-to-later May.
"As we get more of our starters back in the line-up, we will get stronger," said Rike. "Hopefully, we won't have dug too much of a hole for ourselves before we get it all together. With four teams in the district ranked in the [metro area's] Top Ten, there is not a lot of room for mistakes during the season."
The top four teams at the district tournament later this spring will advance to the following week's 16-team Northern Region Tournament. In the brutally tough Concorde District, it seems one or two premier teams are left out of regionals every year. Robinson wants to be one of the teams which advances out of districts, and a healthy Rams' squad will go a long way towards doing so.
ROBINSON PUT TOGETHER a solid first half of the season. The team opened the spring campaign on March 12 with a strong showing versus non-Northern Region opponent and area power Battlefield High (Northwest Region) of Haymarket. The contest, played at Battlefield, ended in a 2-2 tie but coach Rike was impressed with his team's play throughout as the Rams handily outshot the Bobcats, 22-6.
The positive vibes from playing well in the season opener, however, were dampened a bit by a couple of Robinson injuries incurred in the game.
One week later, Robinson shined in a 6-1 road win over local rival Lake Braddock (Patriot District) on March 19. An outstanding game for the Rams came from Barbara Platenberg, an All-Met selection two years ago who this spring is returning from a 2011 ACL injury. Also putting together strong showings versus the Bruins were Jeannine Molleda and Savannah Miller.
Two days following the win over Lake Braddock, Robinson struggled in a 3-0 road loss at Stone Bridge High (Liberty District) in Ashburn. The prior injuries from the season opener nine days earlier versus Battlefield were more pronounced in the loss to the Bulldogs than they had been against Lake Braddock.
"Unfortunately, with two of three starting defenders out due to injuries, we couldn't stop [Stone Bridge] All-Met Muriel Tiernan from scoring all three goals in our loss," said Rike.
But the Rams bounced back with consecutive wins over area rivals West Springfield, 2-1 on March 27, and South County, 4-0, two days later. The game with the Spartans was at West Springfield, while the game against the Stallions was at home.
"In the South County game, it was a strong overall team effort," said Rike, of the Rams' final game prior to spring break.
"We are still down five players due to injuries, but the players we had played very well together, earning us our first shutout," said the coach, of the victory over South County.
In the win over the Stallions, Brigitte Kuter opened the scoring with a goal off a corner kick by Jeannine Molleda nearly 10 minutes into the game. Jenna Lamb headed in a cross from Savannah Miller to make it 2-0 with less than 19 minutes remaining in the first half. And a goal by Barbara Platenberg made it 3-0 in the final two minutes of the half.
Miller, seven minutes into the second half, scored an unassisted goal to make the score 4-0 Robinson and complete the scoring.
Rike credited the Rams' defensive tandem of Karalee Eriks, Caroline Weaver, Haley Roberson, and Lindsay Mondloch with playing well together in protecting goalkeeper Hayley Talbot, who earned her first shutout of the season.
This Friday night, April 13 at 7, Robinson will look to gain its first win since returning from spring break when it hosts non-district opponent Mount Vernon (National District). Next week, the Rams will play district games at Westfield on Monday, April 16, and a home contest versus Centreville on Wednesday, April 18. Both games are set to begin at 7.