River Ridge rolled over district rival Ridgewood 8-0 Wednesday behind three goals from freshman forward Deana Rossi.
There was a scary moment in the game when Rams defender Nikki Buccelatto collapsed on the field from exhaustion 12 minutes into the second half. Play was stopped more than six minutes and she had to be helped off the field.
"She hadn't been at practice over Christmas break," Rams coach John Herig said. "She was a little winded and just started hyperventilating. This was the first time she had to run for a duration of time so fatigue just set in."
Herig expects her to recover in time for the next game.
The Rams' woes started before Buccelatto went down, as the young team couldn't find a rhythm. The Royal Knight's defense swarmed over Ridgewood, limiting the Rams to only three shots on goal for the game.
"I lost eight seniors last year. I only have two seniors this year," Herig said. "When the youth is on, the experience is off. We're just trying to get it to click together for districts, but this is a battle we've been trying to do all year."
Herig said that not practicing over Christmas break "set us back over a month."
Knights coach Skip Glover said the blowout was a sign the team finally was coming together for the upcoming district games.
"This is about time to start meshing, hopefully," he said. "They're a young group, we've got six freshmen on the team and only four seniors. They're all good players. It's just getting them to learn to play together.
"They're finally coming together and they do a really good job. They play really hard."
Despite the shutout, Herig saw strong play from senior Kristina Kell, the team captain and three-time conference first-team selection.
"She's a big anchor in our mid-field," Herig said. "She's got youth all around her but she keeps her composure. She's got a lot of soccer knowledge for her age. She got everyone involved even though the score was one-sided."
River Ridge's three goals from Rossi anchored the team. Juniors Colleen Jones and Christina Smith and seniors Kim Nagy and Kelly Newton also scored.
"I was just playing my game," Rossi said. "I really don't know what I'm thinking on the field. I just do my best."
Newton's goal, a header off a corner kick, sealed the shutout, with the referees calling the game early.