With the feeling of fall weather finally arriving, Cedar Ridge High School took on Orange High School at home Wednesday night. The Red Wolves ( decked out in their red jerseys were enthusiastic about taking on the rival Panthers (4-4, 1-2 Big 8) as fans filled up the stadium. The home fans would not be disappointed, the Red Wolves won the match in penalty kicks, 4-3, after a 3-3 tie through the first 80 minutes of play.
The game got off to swift start as the Red Wolves attempted to score a goal against a fairly strong Panther defense. The first goal was not made until around the 17-minute mark of the first half by Orange. The Panthers scored once again in the first half, and held a 2-1 halftime advantage over the Red Wolves It appeared that both teams were trying to play it safe while taking each other on. The Red Wolves were quick to block the Panthers with strong defense as the more offensive Panthers attempted to score goals. As the contest became more competitive with the stakes growing higher in the second half, the intensity continued to rise between the teams. Cedar Ridge was able to outscore Orange, 2-1, in the final 40 minutes of play. It was freshman midfielder Nicholas Frank who led the way, with two of the three goals on the night. Senior midfielder Reese Weaver added the other goal to help his side advance to a penalty shootout.
With the teams engaging in a penalty shootout, the Red Wolves were able to extend a narrow advantage to win the game, taking down the Panthers by a 4-3 margin in penalty kicks.
For head coach Chris Walker, the Red Wolves victory helped to prove his confidence in the team he has worked closely with. The head coach had a gleam of victory across his face after the game.
“It’s the first time that we have beat them on our field in three years – it was a good game, I feel great about it, we played well, we dug deep, it’s the first time we played game and came back to win the game.” Coach Walker was enthusiastic throughout the match and team morale was high after the first goal was scored roughly eleven minutes in.
Part of the student section, gathered in a line, cheered on their classmates as the game ensued. As the game went into overtime, the small group kept shouting “That’s our freshman” a clear reference to No. 8 –Frank. The freshman varsity player appeared to take charge numerous times during the match – he even seemed to be carrying the team throughout the game, as he led his team with two goals. His friends were charged up and cheered him on as well as other players every step of that the entirety of the match.
Frank said he felt honored to have helped the team to score a victory in overtime by scoring the deciding goal in the shootout.
“My heart’s just pounding, because this is the most pressure I’ve yet had on my shoulders and to come out in the second half to such a high level rivalry and having to play in this game is just crazy, I’ve never felt this way before,” Frank said.
For the freshman varsity player, it was a very successful evening. Frank helped score a victory for Cedar Ridge and played with grace all night. The Red Wolves and their fans were more than pleased with the victory over a long-standing rival.