EAST BEND - In a season of blowout wins and shutouts, the Lady Falcons were battled-tested in back-to-back games last week against ranked squads.
And they responded in a big way.
Second-ranked Forbush fought past Surry Central 4-1 Tuesday night before blanking 3A powerhouse West Rowan 4-0 Thursday in a matchup that pitted two of top teams in the state together.
“I’m really, really pleased. I think we put together a full game tonight,” head coach Kenan James said after the West game. “We were aggressive and brave out there.
“The other night, Jennifer Baity split her head open and had a two-inch gash on the back of her head, and tonight she’s out there winning every head ball. We played really hard.”
Baity, showing no ill affects from the injury, set the pace early on for the Falcons Thursday. The Pfeiffer-bound senior fired home a penalty kick in the lower right corner less than eight minutes in to give Forbush a quick 1-0 advantage.
The Falcons peppered the goal early and often in the first half, including three corner kicks in the opening 40 minutes, but were unable to extend their lead.
Nancy Rios finally broke through just before halftime, chipping the ball over the keeper’s head from the left baseline to give Forbush a 2-0 cushion at the break.
West Rowan showed signs of life in the opening minutes of the second half, testing Falcon net-minder Jessica Funk. But Funk came up big.
“Jessica had a huge save in the first half, tipping the ball over the net. The girls have a lot of confidence in her and she’s been pretty sure with her hands. She was steady and looked good back there,” James said.
But Forbush answered West’s scoring threats as Baity found Madison York open in the box in the 25th minute, who fired a shot past the goalie to extend the lead out to 3-0.
Four minutes later, Tiffany Kennedy iced the game when she headed home a long throw-in by Sheridan Caudle as the Falcons cruised to the 4-0 victory, adding a signature win to their already impressive résumé.
“We scored in every kind of way,” James explained. “They stepped up to this kind of competition, and we need that for the playoffs.
“Hopefully this will give us some confidence. We’ve had some blowout wins, so we were glad to get a game that was tight and come in a play well and get a good result. Four goals against this team is outstanding,” he added.
James credited his team for responding well to a shaky performance against 14th-ranked Surry Central two nights earlier, where the Falcons scored three goals late to break a 1-1 tie for the close win.
“The Surry Central game was very different. The ball wasn’t on the ground much and they were very physical and I don’t think we matched their physical play,” he said. “Tonight, we came out wanting to prove that we were a physical team and play our style of game regardless of who are playing.
“Surry Central did a good job of taking us out of our game, but we played our game tonight and I’m really pleased with that. We were exposed a little bit in the game Tuesday and I think we fixed those things and didn’t show up against West as much,” James added.
With the wins, Forbush rose to No. 2 in the latest Eurosport 2A rankings and improved to 16-0 on the season. But aside from the perfect mark and the state ranking, James believes the victories will benefit the team in the long run come playoff time.
“The games tighten up big time in the playoffs. So to play against tough competition and play under that pressure constantly will help us going forward,” he explained. “The margin of error in the playoffs is really small. In the past, the games we’ve won have been 2-1 and 1-0 and the ones that we’ve lost have been the same. So there is not a lot of room for mistakes.
“It is really huge for us to play competitive teams like this and come out on top with big wins,” James added.
But before looking ahead to the postseason, the Falcons have five league games remaining with their sights set on a Mountain Valley Conference title, beginning Tuesday night against Elkin.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.