Tom Natalie had told his girls prior to the game, it was going to be a tough game. That it was going to be hard to defeat a team three times in one season.


Natalie was right-on with his projection as the game’s lone goal came in the last minute of the first half off a shot from Allison Runyon, who gathered up the loose ball off a Nicole McAlpin cross, essentially giving the Red Raiders a 1-0 win.

 


For the third time this year the Fairport Red Raider girls soccer team was facing the Victor Blue Devil girls, having  beaten the Blue Devils 3-1 in both previous regular season games. Only this time the game was for the right to go on to the Class A semi-finals, and as third-seeded Fairport Red Raider coach Tom Natalie had told his girls prior to the game, it was going to be a tough game. That it was going to be hard to defeat a team three times in one season.


Natalie was right-on with his projection as the game’s lone goal came in the last minute of the first half off a shot from Allison Runyon, who gathered up the loose ball off a Nicole McAlpin cross, essentially giving the Red Raiders a 1-0 win.


“It came from a cross that hit off a defender, popped out and I just hit it, hoping it went in,” said Allison Runyan of her goal. “This was a tough game. The coaches were saying that it is hard to beat a team three times, and it was. They came out really strong and we just had to keep up with their physical play. So we played physical too.”


The visiting Blue Devils, knowing that they had to change tactics if they were going to pull off the upset, did just that.


“We changed things up so we could keep up with their outside flanks and our kids a fantastic job,” said Victor coach Kelly Ahern after the game. Regardless of what the scoreboard showed, they showed all the traits we have been working hard at all season. They showed a lot of heart. The heart was there and they had an open mind. We just fell a little short of getting the ball in the net. I can’t be more proud of my kids because they did what was asked of them.”


For Natalie, it sounds like he’s enjoying the ride in his first year of coaching girls high school soccer after many years of coaching college. 


“To be the first time through for me this is an interesting experience,” he said with a big smile after the game. “There is such an emotion around high school soccer. It’s really neat to be a part of this. I’m very lucky to come in with a strong group of girls and a great coaching staff. 


Kelly is a great coach and their team played with a ton of heart. They had a great game-plan that was excellent against us. I thought they matched up aginst our strengths really well and did a good job of managing the game so that we could get into some of our normal attacking modes. 


So we had to change up some things at half time. I thought we really executed well in the second half but the ball just didn’t go in. Some great saves, some unlucky bounces. The cross bar, off the post. We did everything well, we just didn’t finish. When you are playing against a team that is driven by a lot seniors, is playing with a lot of heart, they make it a battle all the way to thend. 


“I have to give credit to my defense they really did a nioce job of not allowing any dangerous opportunities.”


Getting the last word is Ahern. 


“It’s always tough when a season ends,” concluded Ahern. “But our kids will never be able to take away the experiences and the people they shared them with.”