Though the season is just two games young, the Stone Bridge girls’ soccer team has already experienced its share of wear and tear. And in the first half of Wednesday’s contest at Robinson, an injury list that included senior Corinne Giroux (hip injury) and sophomore Lauren Brower (illness) got longer when Megan Della Penna hurt her knee.
But just as they’ve done during a four-year run that’s included a Virginia AAA state title and two Northern Region crowns, the Bulldogs reloaded Wednesday, mixing a dose of young talent with tested senior leadership to beat the Rams, 2-0. Reigning All-Met Player of the Year Murielle Tiernan scored both goals for Stone Bridge (2-0).
“We knew coming into the season that some players were dealing with injuries,” the senior forward said, “so things can only go up from here as we get our teammates back and if we keep working hard as a team.”
Less than eight minutes into the contest, Tiernan scored her first goal, although it took a few tricky bounces to reach the back of the net. After the Virginia Tech recruit fired a shot from about 30 yards out, the ball smacked off the crossbar before dancing backward in the box and ultimately, over the goal line.
Tiernan’s second goal came with a bit more ease, thanks to Ashley Herndon. Using an impressive array of dribble moves, Herndon weaved through four Robinson defenders on the left side before tapping a pass to Tiernan, who netted her second score at the game’s 20-minute 37-second mark.
“It feels like we’ve played together forever, but we only met as freshman on the team,” said Herndon, a four-year varsity player and James Madison recruit. “Ever since then, we’ve built a chemistry to where we know where the other is going to be on the field.”
The Bulldogs’ effort to maintain its lead took a blow just before halftime when Della Penna went down. The junior defender had to be helped off the field, with Bulldogs Coach Joan Windows fearing afterward that Della Penna might have torn the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.
Looking to exploit the sudden void in Stone Bridge’s defense, Robinson (1-1-1) came out with a more aggressive offensive approach after halftime. Scoring opportunities came on two direct kick attempts and several scrambles in front of the goal, but the Bulldogs thwarted each one, led by the stingy defense of Ariana and Briana Alston.
“We made two mental mistakes in the first half and we paid for it, which is what happens against a great team like Stone Bridge,” Robinson Coach Jim Rike said. “We graduated eight starters so there’s some work to be done, but I’m confident we will be better by the end of the year.”