RIPLEY, W.Va. — The Athens Bulldogs were on the road on Tuesday night for a match against the Ripley Vikings. It was a physical contest that ended in a 0-0- tie
The Vikings opened strong with forward Makayla Wriston immediately driving down the right side and sending a long ball across an open goal mouth. Following miss kicks by both Bulldogs and Vikings, Addi Morrison ripped a shot, but the ball sailed high over the net.
For the first 10 minutes, the Bulldogs were caught a bit flat footed as the Vikings pressed hard and showered shots at keeper Kayla Hammonds. Most shots went high and wide, and others were easily seized by Hammonds, who had five saves in the half.
Initially, the Vikings used the width of the field and moved the ball in masterful triangles, making it difficult for the Bulldogs to gain possession and mount any attacks. However, by midway through the half, the Bulldogs started to adjust.
Midfielders Chloe Clevenger and Tess Wilhelm registered a few interceptions and steals, and the Bulldogs defense, organized by Ava Kristofco and Julia Dick, worked in a coordinated fashion to press the Vikings outside and repel drives down the middle.
The Bulldogs organized a few attacks before the end of the half. Bella Sutton defeated her opponent on the left sideline and turned to pass to Tess Wilhelm who launched a through ball to Osha Backus. Backus, under pressure, narrowly got the shot off, but only to find it land squarely in the hands of the Viking keeper.
The Vikings outshot the Bulldogs 12-2 in the first half.
The second half continued as a high pressured, physical game. The Vikings moved the ball well, but ultimately the Bulldogs created sufficient pressure, interrupting their developing attacks.
The Bulldogs forced the Vikings to take shots from 20 to 30 yards out and when the Vikings did get a shot, they struggled to put the ball on net. Tess Wilhelm and Annie Moulton succeeded in working their way through heavy Viking traffic to each get a shot on goal, but in the end, it was a shut-out and a draw.
This brings the Bulldogs’ record to 5-7-4. They head to Cambridge on Saturday for the last game of the regular season.