Ventura's hat trick lifts Marvin Ridge
Junior forward Alyssa Ventura found the back of the net three times to lead the Marvin Ridge High girls soccer team to a 3-2 victory over Sun Valley in a pivotal league match on Tuesday night.
The Mavericks, now 14-2 overall and 8-1 in the Southern Carolina Conference, can claim the league title outright if they win at Weddington on Friday.
It was Senior Night, so the Mavs — ranked sixth in the state 3A poll by eurosportscoreboard.com — used a different lineup for the first 10 minutes of the game.
Shortly after substituting, Marvin Ridge lit up the scoreboard.
Ventura, just entering the game, scored off a S.K. Davis assist with 29:56 left on the first-half clock.
"It gave me a lot of confidence because that was my first touch on the ball coming into the game," Ventura said. "It felt nice to score a goal. I knew that we needed more goals against this team, obviously we did."
Marvin Ridge carried the 1-0 lead into the break.
The Mavs took control early in the second half when Lauren Clark lobbed in a free kick from the right side of the box that resulted in a Ventura header that gave her team a 2-0 lead with 29:41 remaining.
Nine minutes and 20 seconds later Ventura earned the hat trick on a penalty kick.
"I just kept reminding them the game ends at the whistle, it's not over just because it's 3-0," Ventura said. "We came back after being down 3-0 at halftime against Weddington to win (5-4)."
The Spartans (5-2, 13-3-1) put their first shot on goal of the second half with 10:23 left and maintained the attack until Keirsten Peck found Brittney Smith for a goal with 3:15 left to cut the lead to two.
Peck then used a free kick to find the head of Jacquie Zimmerman that cut the lead to one with 1:11 left.
The Mavs didn't allow another chance to tie the game, though, and handed Sun Valley its first loss of the month.
Marvin Ridge coach Ray Fumo was pleased after his team defeated the Spartans, who are ranked 12th in the 4A state poll.
"I think we had a little something to prove," Fumo said. "We've lost to them twice in a row. I don't think we've ever lost to a team here three times in a row so we didn't want that. It's our field and we really wanted to take care of our field. I thought we played solid.
"Sun Valley was a bit undermanned tonight but they came out and gave it their heart. That's how they beat us last time (2-1 on March 26). They beat us to the ball. Tonight I thought was a little more evenly balanced."
The contest was physical, and included six yellow cards (three per team).
"I think there is just a big rivalry with these two teams," Ventura said.
Beyond the league title, Fumo says playoff seeding is also a motivator against the Warriors.
"With the way the brackets fall this year, it's extremely important to have that top seed," Fumo said. "If we take care of business, then we achieve the goals that we want. If we don't get it done on Friday, then we have to hope something else happens along the way. We've put ourselves in the right position to this point."
"I think we all need to have the right mentality going into it," Ventura said. "We just need to be determined. We can beat any team if we put our minds to it."
Sun Valley travels to archrival Porter Ridge on Friday.
Southern Carolina Conference
girls soccer standings
Marvin Ridge at Weddington
Sun Valley at Porter Ridge