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Lafayette’s (4-0) lone goal proved the difference in a rain-soaked contest against Grafton (3-3) Tuesday night at Wanner Stadium.
Seven minutes into the contest, Rams midfielder Hannah Potter gained possession, turned up field and saw teammate Carson Pokorny flashing by the Clippers back line.
A well-timed through ball hit Pokorny in stride seconds before Pokorny’s chip shot beat the onrushing Grafton keeper.
The connection added to an on-field relationship that dates back to both Potter and Pokorny’s childhood. Both play for a Richmond-based travel team, and the chemistry paid dividends Tuesday night.
“We have a really good connection. I’ve known her since she was a baby,” Pokorny said. “She played me a little slip ball over the top, which is my favorite, and we capitalized on it.”
After the goal, Grafton rallied with a handful of shots from distance. None bothered goalkeeper Megan Roberts, who helped secure Lafayette’s second shutout of the year.
“We had a long layoff for spring break and Grafton is easily the toughest team we’ve played so far,” Lafayette coach Kevin Nealer said. “It was good to get a good result against them and have plenty of opportunities, and for our defense to play well.”
While the Rams defense held the Clippers in check, the offense went to work over the final 25 minutes of the first half. Grace Macomber nearly scored off a corner kick in the 15th minute, but the senior defender’s header glanced wide left.
With 20 minutes until halftime, Pokorny outpaced the Clippers back line to a loose ball, collected on the end line and played a ball to Devin Lucas. The shot ricocheted off a handful of defenders and did not amount to anything, but did showcase the Rams’ potent attack.
The best chance of the first half came in the 25th minute. Lafayette earned a free kick, setting up Peyton Kilgore for the 40-yard set piece. Pokorny worked her way to the cross but knocked her header off the cross bar.
Rain frustrated both teams throughout much of the first 40 minutes, as long touches and heavy passes made possession difficult. The Clippers chased most of the first half and much of the early going in the second.
Lafayette nearly added a second goal two minutes out of the break. Potter again found Pokorny on a through ball. Pokorny managed a touch that slid the ball under the sliding goalkeeper, Olivia Hill. The ball hit the post, rebounded and hung on the goal line until Hill fell on it to negate the threat.
As the rain abated, Grafton’s offense began to show signs of life. Malia Valentine fed Sophia Beaudoin in the 55th minute, forcing a knock-down save from Roberts.
The best chance to equalize came with just eight minutes remaining. Jacquolyn Armstrong of Grafton drew a foul after being clipped as she worked toward the Lafayette penalty box. Beaudoin’s free kick would have found a host of eager Clippers on the back post if not for Robert’s outstretched deflection.
A handful of attempts in the dying minutes did not amount to anything as the Rams held on for the win.
“I thought we were, as my coach put it, definitely gritty. We hung in there,” Pokorny said. “We scored seven minutes into the game and ended up with the 1-0 win, which is good for any team, no matter who you are.”
Lafayette faces Tabb on the road 7 p.m. Thursday, while Grafton travels to New Kent for a 7 p.m. start Friday.
Lafayette 1, Grafton 0
Goals: Lafayette (Carson Pokorny)
Assists: Lafayette (Hannah Potter)