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Oak Ridge ties Ponderosa, 1-1, on Ghilarducci's goal

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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Oak Ridge High’s varsity girls’ soccer team is a second half team, or so Alex Ghilarducci said after banging in Oak Ridge’s 78th minute marker against Ponderosa on Wednesday. Down 1-0 entering halftime, the Trojans (0-0-2 in league) owned the final 20 minutes led by the senior defender. Ghilarducci played as a forward against rival Ponderosa and took the assist from sophomore Julia Crawford for the even 1-1 tie. The Bruins struck first in the 25th minute. A lofty shot from about 40 yards out careened to goalkeeper Nina Grimes, who made an initial save, but was unable to control it. In their two Delta River League matches, the Trojans have gone down 1-0 in the first half. Almost as if they like a challenge, they’ve came back with a matching goal in each second half. Ghilarducci’s strike pulled Oak Ridge to its second of back-to-back 1-1 matches against Sheldon and Ponderosa in the span of three days. She said despite another slow start and lack of chemistry, her team picked it up right on cue. “Everyone wanted to score, so our intensity picked up late,” Ghilarducci said. “Our chemistry is starting to get better and this being such an emotional rivalry game, we really wanted it.” Oak Ridge ran the gamut against Ponderosa last season. All three games were decided by one goal. The Trojans finished 1-1-1 against the Bruins. Folsom (1-0-1) was the only team with a win to open league play. The rest of league was left to fight amongst themselves. The Bulldogs tied 0-0 against Sheldon (0-0-2) on Wednesday. With St. Francis having some player issues and the no other teams jumping out to replace them initially, Oak Ridge coach Henry Reis said he wants his team to peak at the right time. “The league we’re in is going to have a lot of ties and 1-0 games and I don’t think anyone is going to break away,” Reis said. “Ponderosa dominated us through 10 minutes into the second half, but then we shifted and it became about working out specific areas. I’d like us to have a good run at the end of the season.” The Trojans are solid defensively, but are also currently struggling to get balls in the net. Luckily it appears to be a trend for the other five teams too. All six league teams have tied at least one of its first two games. Folsom’s two goals against St. Francis have been the most scored in as many. Folsom and Oak Ridge have significant numbers of returning players. While Oak Ridge brought back 10, Folsom added 15 from last season’s team. The Bulldogs have 14 seniors, the Trojans five. But if the Trojans can have success this season, the next few look promising. More than half the team is underclassmen. Crawford is one of 10 sophomores in addition to freshman defensive standout Nicole Mazzone. Three juniors – Olivia Frace, Carissa Rivers and Adian Chimenti – could rejoin next season. Ghilarducci said she’s played with some of those other nine returners for more than 10 years. She, and a number of them, has been on varsity since freshman year. It’s a matter of time before the chemistry among teammates translates into wins, according to Ghilarducci. “We’re definitely a second-half team. Once we score our intensity picks up,” Ghilarducci said. “We haven’t lost so far in our first two games and I know our chemistry is getting better. It’s just a matter of getting out there and trusting each other. That comes with time and more games.” More games are something they have. Next week has Oak Ridge home to Pleasant Grove and away to St. Francis.