Pressing for position in the region standings, Rome High’s soccer teams went into Thursday’s contests with a sense that there would be some emotions attached to them.
But while the outcomes were mixed, both the Wolves and Lady Wolves left it all on the pitch for their matches with Region 7-5A foe Carrollton at Barron Stadium.
A free kick was all that separated Rome’s boys and the visiting Trojans as the Wolves pressured Carrollton the entire time but came up short in the 1-0 final. It was Rome’s first region loss of the season.
“We had a lot of chances, and hopefully we’ll see them down the road,” Rome boys’ coach Chris Cochran said. “We’ll bounce back. We’ve got a good squad, and we’ll be ready come tournament time.”
In the girls’ match, senior Rebekah Hufstetler broke open a scoreless tie in the second half with three goals in the span of 10 minutes that lifted the Lady Wolves to a 3-0 victory, which marked Rome’s third win in a row.
“She’s always been a center mid(fielder) for us and a great passer, but this year she’s had to take on a new role to step up and score some goals for us,” Rome girls’ coach Jessica Hewitt said. “And she’s really done well with it.”
Rome’s boys (6-4, 4-1 7-5A) out shot Carrollton 12-3 in their match that stood at 0-0 at halftime. Eduardo Zavala and Sergio Vazquez were a part of the Wolves’ intense forward attack, but Carrollton keeper Cristian Martinez kept the net secure the entire game.
The scoreless tie was broken 10 minutes into the second half when Carrollton’s Thomas Culwell took a free kick from about 35 yards out and sent it in the top left of the goal. Rome tried to even the score but couldn’t get one past Martinez.
“Sometimes it can be a cruel game,” Cochran said. “You can do well in a lot of facets and still come up short. The fact that our defense limited them to three shots on goal means we’ve done something pretty good.”
The Lady Wolves (5-6, 3-1 7-5A) have played from the start of the season without two injured senior leaders in Alli Gaither and Kari Johnson, but Hewitt said one thing they have learned this year is to fight.
That came into play Thursday when Rome had to keep up the battle with Carrollton until Hufstetler punched in a goal from the top of the box in the 64th minute. She scored on a free kick in the next minute and completed the hat trick by clearing the ball out of traffic in front of the goal in the 73rd minute.
“We’ve grown a lot over the season,” Hewitt said. “And we’ve got an experienced backfield that has helped us on defense.” Seniors Abby young, Ashleigh Russo-Alesi and Heidi Cole make up the leadership nucleus for Rome’s defense.
Rome’s teams will take a quick break from region play on Tuesday when they play at Darlington.