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By Will Birks
ROCKVILLE — On Monday, the Richard Montgomery Rockets girls varsity soccer team defeated the visiting Blair Blazers with the game-winning goal scored in overtime by Ally Ratkowski-Howe, the final score 3-2.
For the first 10 minutes of the game, the teams seemed evenly matched but then RM received a spark from junior forward Diamond Alexander allowing for good scoring chances with her speed. Finally in the 15th minute, the Rockets were able to bury a shot into the top of the goal from Marlee Heaven, going up 1-0.
However, Blair didn’t roll over and surrender, as Noa Dorah tried to do almost everything herself, attempting to force passes near the Rockets goal in hopes of finding a teammate for a score. With the Richard Montgomery backline coming up with some key turnovers on their side of the field, they were able to prevent the Blazers’ shots from entering the back of the net.
On defense, RM Rockets’ Helena Chang stopped Dorah one-on-one multiple times. However, Blair was able to come up with a key goal in the final minute of the first half with Dorah breaking past RM’s backline and floating it over the head of the Rockets goalie to even up the score at 1-1 going into halftime.
At the start of the second half, RM anticipated Blair and dominated throughout with Diamond Alexander coming in after struggling with a foot injury towards the end of the first half and scoring a goal to go up one score. The Rockets defense seemed too much for the Blazers, preventing any chance Blair had near the goal with goalie Sophia Ballor making great saves and Chang continuing to provide excellent defense.
It wasn’t until the final five minutes of the second half that Blair seemed to finally take action, picking up the pace and playing a scrappy game. Led by Dorah, the Blazers put on the pressure, forcing the RM defense to make some difficult stops. Playing her heart out, Dorah went down after taking a hit, allowing teammate Bianca Martinez Penn to take a goal kick.
Coming up extremely clutch, Martinez Penn kicked it perfectly out of the reach of RM goalie Ballor, tying up the game at 2-2 with two minutes to go. Going into overtime, the Rockets looked extremely disappointed with themselves in allowing Blair to get back into the game with simple mistakes but Rockets head coach Carlos Montalvan was able to rally the team and inspire them to eventually win the game.
Overtime was dominated by the Rockets, putting heavy pressure on a tiring Blair defense. Finally after four minutes of overtime, Ratkowski-Howe was able to bury that game-winning goal embracing her teammates as she ran to the sideline with joy.
Overall Blair played an extremely scrappy game and was able to prevent numerous goals from the Rockets due to spectacular saves from Blair goalie Zoe Abramson, who blocked numerous high-powered shots coming from the Rockets.
“Their keeper kept them in the game making some spectacular saves,” said Montalvan, who seemed clearly frustrated that his team was unable to score on some shots right in front of the goal.
Still, the Rockets were able to come out with the win, improving to 9-3-1 on the season and shift their focus to Oct. 19 when they play the Walter Johnson Wildcats. Blair drops to 8-4-1 on the season with their final game coming against the Churchill Bulldogs on Oct. 17. Both teams are looking to finish the regular season strong and continue their momentum going into the playoffs.