Viva Loudoun ‘Sports Night’, brought to you by Power Train Sports & Fitness
Lansdowne, Va. (April 18, 2017) — Sophomore slump? Not here.
The Rams of Riverside High School are engaged in their second go-’round in this whole spring sports thing. But you wouldn’t know it by the gaudy marks racked up by virtually all the Rams’ springtime teams.
Not by baseball’s 11-1, or softball’s 10-0, boys’ soccer’s 8-0-1 or girls’ soccer’s 5-2. Not by the girls’ lacrosse team’s 9-0 or the boys’ 10-0. Heck, even Riverside’s JV lax squads won their first 18 games combined.
Not by the guys’ tennis team’s 7-1 start with five 9-0 shutouts, nor by girls’ tennis’ 7-0 with four shutouts – and not by the smiles on all the head coaches’ faces.
“These kids are hungry,” said head softball coach Samantha Ingersoll, who had more than a dozen regular participants at her off-season workouts. “They want to play. They know the talent is there, the base is there. It’s just figuring out how to play together.”
Ingersoll’s diamond counterpart, Riverside’s head baseball coach Sam Plank, said the commitment is obvious.
“We’ve been working since the day this school opened to compete at an elite level,” said the longtime head coach, who started Stone Bridge’s program back in 2001 and finished as a state champion in 2015. “We practice hard, we put huge expectations on ’em. When you play tough, you give yourself a chance to win every night.”
Tuesday twilight brought weather to Lansdowne like what t-shirts were invented for. The bran’-spankin’-new ballfields, separated from their still-shiny school by a green-canopied gully, were resplendent in their modern manicure.
In Viva Loudoun‘s first Sports Night of the spring (an exclusive feature brought to you by Power Train), we went to see the Rams in action against a trio of fellow Loudoun schools: Heritage, Dominion and Rock Ridge. For the home teams, baseball and girls’ tennis won handily while softball fought off the feisty Pride and the lacrosse teams dealt with stiff challenges from Dominion.
Girls’ tennis: Riverside 8, Rock Ridge 1
With five of six singles wins and cruising in two of three doubles, there wasn’t much drama as to the outcome of this clay-court matchup between Loudoun’s two newest high schools.
But that one doubles match gave plenty of drama anyway. Finding themselves down 7-2, Ritika Reddy and Ariella Gerrig stormed back to win seven straight points for a 9-7 comeback victory that had the Ram coaches gushing. The phrase “real grit” was heard.
“The biggest thing about this group is we dig in and we don’t give up,” said head coach Laura Schamus – before Reddy’s and Gerrig’s remarkable feat. “We’ve had tough matches that could have gone either way, but they’ve fought to win many of those.”
Hard-hitting lefty Sydney Sawyer, who just committed to swing the racket for Christopher Newport University after this, her senior year, teamed with Shelby Haeff for three wins: Sawyer’s 8-2 in the No. 1 match, Haeff’s 8-0 in the No. 3, and their doubles pairing to the tune of 8-0.
Kat Acosta earned the Phoenix’s one win with a 8-4 decision.
JV Girls’ Lacrosse: Riverside 10, Dominion 7
Head coach Susan Benson had been waiting for this game. She wanted to get the measure of her all-freshman junior-varsity lacrosse team, and she figured the measuring stick (pun intended) was the band of Titans and their 5-1 mark coming in.
It was indeed a good one. Sydney Steinman ripped the top shelf of the twine with literally one second left in the first half, extending the Rams’ lead to 6-2. That tally became key when the Titans fought back to within two in the second half.
“This was truly a team win, a well-rounded victory,” Benson said.
A second-half sequence, begun by goalkeeper Anisha Kumar‘s save leading directly to another Steinman goal, swung the momentum back to Rams for the duration.
Grace Keefe led with three goals and two assists, while Steinman, Elle Pickering and Stephanie Walter threw in two apiece for 8-0 Riverside, who landed 10 of their 13 shots. On the opposite end, Kumar made three saves.
Baseball: Riverside 11, Heritage 1 (5 inn.)
The lively left arm of Wes Glass – he of the big shoulders and full beard – delivered enough tailing fastballs to the Pride’s mostly-righty lineup to limit output to one run on two hits and two walks while striking out five. Glass ran his mound record to 3-0.
Meanwhile, the Rams touched up two Heritage righties for five runs in the second, then tacked on three more over the next couple frames. In the bottom of the fifth, Nick Jones lined a two-out single to right-center to plate the 10th and 11th runs which automatically halted the game.
The Riverside ballplayers were in a raucous mood after the contest as Plank tossed out a few gameballs to their targets.
“These guys are becoming a team. That’s part of building a program. They’re all in it together,” Plank said.
Robbie Ferreira and Ryan Hoehn banged out a couple hits each. Sajon Belser drove in a pair, one of eight Rams credited with an RBI.
Softball: Riverside 9, Heritage 5
Head coach Samantha Ingersoll has decided to put a freshman in the pitcher’s circle, and Annika Dunn has rewarded that decision – as have the six other high school rookies on Ingersoll’s roster.
Pitching to contact, Dunn allowed 13 Pride hits – including three each by Abby Schaub and Maeve Keck, with one of Keck’s leaving the yard – but got key rally-killing outs to avoid the big inning.
Meanwhile, Riverside exploded for a four-run fourth ignited by three consecutive base knocks from the bottom of the order, turning a 3-3 tie into the final margin.
Dunn, like many of her teammates, entered the program with abundant travel-level experience, which pleases Ingersoll just fine.
“I have 16 kids up and down my lineup who can play. All seven of my freshmen are ballplayers. They all play like they’re older,” she said. “They don’t have the freshman immaturity that you’re afraid of, because they play tougher competition in travel ball. These are kids who’ve seen ball like this.”
Girls’ Lacrosse: Riverside 14, Dominion 9
This season’s first Viva Loudoun Sports Night saved the best for last. The Rams and the Titans came in with undefeated records and no intention of changing that.
It took eight minutes for the first goal to fly home. Dominion got that, but then Riverside rushed for four unanswered over three minutes – a spurt matched soon after by Dominion, who took a 5-4 lead at the half.
Then it was time to meet a sophomore named Kendra “Keke” Keyser. She scored a goal 45 seconds into the second, and when Dominion’s Catherine Renick notched a go-ahead, Keyser scored again – nine seconds after the ball was put back in play. (That required a face-off win at center, a full-speed charge for almost 50 yards and an acrobatic fling around converging defenders…all in nine seconds.)
The Titans pulled off a pretty passing play with freshman Mya Brock hitting Michaela Hansen in stride for the score, so – maybe 30 seconds later – Keyser slung a sidewinder in off a free-position stoppage. It was 7-7 and it was getting good.
Keyser tallied the Rams’ final go-ahead goal when she spun 270 degrees to zip in a top-shelf runner. Rachel Giachinta had the helper.
From that 8-7 score it became 10-7, then 12-8, then the ultimate differential of five, but it was a game throughout.
“Dominion is a very well-coached team, they’re skilled and they play quickly,” complimented Riverside head coach Kristan Ash, whose roster sports just two seniors and four juniors. “We’re a young team, and we need to be challenged to figure out how to dig deep and carry through.”
Keyser wound up with six goals, all in the second half. Giachinta put in six herself, while Sydney Ash had the other two. Keeper Meghnar Dawar came up with 13 saves, including a fast-twitch effort to prevent a close-range free-position shot from denting the net.
Improve your game with training that makes you better inside and out. Get personal training and sport-specific training from Power Train in Ashburn and Sterling.
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for Viva Loudoun Media Communications