SHINGLE SPRINGS — Jenna Hufford’s last-second block of Carisa Rivers’ turn shot made for a dramatic finish in Monday’s Ponderosa-Oak Ridge Delta River League soccer matchup. The denial of the Trojans’ best attempt preserved a lead the host Bruins made stand for a 1-0 victory.
Hufford, Ponderosa’s goalie, saw little action thanks to the Bruins’ last line of defense of Alex Donaldson, Breana Duhamel, Natalie Hanson and Corinne Tank — despite Oak Ridge holding possession in the offensive zone for most of the second half. With seconds left, Rivers sealed her mark away from Alex Ghilarducci’s side throw-in and sent a low rocket that Hufford went low to block and then pick up as the head referee blew his whistle to end it.
“I really didn’t see it (the ball) until the last minute and just reacted,” Hufford said of her game-saving play. “I thought we did pretty well although we weren’t sure what to expect.”
For 79-plus minutes, Hufford had it easy as Oak Ridge failed to send a crisp shot on goal the entire match. Rivers changed that with her blistering attempt for Troy’s best hope for the equalizer. The visitors sent a few toward the frame but Rivers’ laser was Hufford’s only real test.
“I trapped it (the pass), turned and kicked it because I knew there were just moments left,” Rivers said “You could tell we just didn’t play as a team today and warm-ups didn’t get us started. But we picked it up at the end realizing we were down and needed a goal.”
The winning goal came in the first half on Michelle Kimball’s penalty kick after a foul in the box. Kimball, who along with Amy Silverbush, lent a hand defensively in the second half, froze Trojan keeper Ashley Pearl with a score inside the left post.
Oak Ridge countered with some deep penetration into the heart of Ponderosa’s defense but the efforts of Rivers, Marissa Ribeiro and Mandi McBroom couldn’t produce a decent shot at Hufford.
“Great game today — very important for us. We just needed a win,” Bruin coach Greg Spangler said. “We knew it’d be close and after that one score I knew it might be the only goal.”
Both defenses headed off any runs that came close. Trojan starters Pearl, Julia Crawford, Amanda Sticklemann, Caira Woo, Paige Okazaki and Nina Grimes also rose to the challenge and contained Kimball’s and Silverbush’s attempts to set up Aubrey Wimmer and Karissa Schroeder on through passes.
“So goes life. We made a mistake — we should have headed it out the first time so we didn’t have to deal with it,” Oak Ridge coach Henry Reis said about the call that awarded the Bruins the PK. “If anything it should have been a dangerous play and a free kick (instead of PK).”
With the win, Ponderosa snapped a five game string of two ties and three losses to improve to 2-3-2 in league while Oak Ridge, still in search of its first Delta River League win, dropped to 0-2-3.