by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Tallmadge -- When the two teams met last year, the Kent Roosevelt girls soccer team held off Tallmadge in an action-packed thriller in Kent.
Part two turned out to be just as thrilling.
But if the Lady Blue Devils are seeking revenge, they will have to wait another year.
The Lady Rough Riders salvaged a 5-5 draw with Tallmadge in a Suburban League American Conference contest Sept. 7 at Thomas Rossiaky Stadium.
Kent, which earned a 3-2 win over the Lady Blue Devils in 2015, trailed by two goals on three different occasions.
However, the Lady Rough Riders had a knack for resurrecting themselves just when things looked totally bleak.
Tallmadge (3-0-2, 0-0-1) squandered leads of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2. Kent made it 5-5 when junior defender/midfielder Mariah Hersman scored on a header after a corner kick by junior midfielder/defender Kendra Kline with 9 minutes, 48 seconds remaining in the game.
Both teams had their chances, but Hersman's goal turned out to be the last of the high-scoring evening.
"We were in the driver's seat," Lady Blue Devils head coach Steve Davis said. "We felt pretty confident after we took a 2-0 lead. It was a good game."
Unfortunately, not everybody left the field in one piece.
With 7:52 left in the match, Lady Rough Riders' junior midfielder/defender Gillian Brenner went down with a head injury after a collision.
She was taken to the hospital by ambulance on a stretcher.
"It was precautionary," Kent head coach Curtis Ahrens said. "She had a cut lip. She has had a little bit of a history with those kind of injuries. She had an injured vertebrae and whiplash in the past. She was responsive, which is very good."
Prior to the late-game drama, Tallmadge took control early.
Less than seven minutes into the game, the Lady Blue Devils had a 2-0 lead.
In fact, Tallmadge got on the board one minute into the game.
Senior midfielder Alyssa Garbinsky took a corner kick from the right side of the field. Her kick landed at the right foot of junior forward Sara Johnson, who one-timed a shot off a Lady Rough Rider defender and into the net for a 1-0 Lady Blue Devils' lead.
Less than six minutes later, Tallmadge made it 2-0 on a breakaway by junior forward Riley Chochola, who finished with a game-high four goals.
With a defender staying with her, Chochola dribbled the ball down the field and unleashed a low line drive with her left foot into the right side of the goal.
"We have girls who can score," Davis said. "Riley, Alyssa, Sara and [senior forward] Rochelle [Haught] have scored goals this year."
But Kent (1-4-1, 0-1-1) responded less than eight minutes later.
Junior forward/midfielder Kayla Fischer played a through ball into the middle of Lady Blue Devils' penalty box.
The ball went right to junior forward/midfielder/defender Emma Holm, who trapped the ball and volleyed the shot into the net to make it 2-1.
However, the Lady Rough Riders' momentum proved to be short-lived.
In traffic, Chochola headed the ball into the net to make it 3-1 in favor of Tallmadge with 15:13 left in the first half.
Once again, though, Kent had an answer.
Fischer got the ball near the Lady Blue Devils' penalty box. With a defender draped all over her, Fischer trapped the ball and quickly turned to free herself. Fischer then smashed a low line drive into the lower left corner of the net.
Fischer's goal cut Tallmadge's advantage to 3-2 with 5:37 remaining in the half.
The Lady Blue Devils appeared to be in control again when Chochola scored goal No. 3 on a breakaway a little more than seven minutes into the second half. Chochola got the ball from junior midfielder Adison Onchak.
But back came Kent and Tallmadge's advantage was cut to one (4-3) when Kline ripped a free kick into the upper part of the net with less than 19 minutes left.
Almost five minutes later, the Lady Rough Riders tied the game.
Moments after Chochola's shot hit the crossbar, Fischer got the ball on a breakaway.
Dribbling past a defender on the right side of the field, Fischer, who played the role of distributor earlier in the game, crushed a low line drive into the lower left corner of the net.
"It's tough to stop Fischer," Davis said. "We thought about man-marking her, but we didn't want to get away from our game. She can shake any defender."
The Lady Blue Devils had an answer.
Chochola did not miss her next opportunity as she gave Tallmadge a 5-4 lead when she scored on a breakaway.
After Hersman tied the game, the Lady Blue Devils had a few chances deep in Kent's end.
But the Lady Rough Riders managed to keep Tallmadge out of the net.
Kent had a 16-9 advantage in shots on goal and the Lady Blue Devils finished with a 5-3 edge in corner kicks.
Tallmadge sophomore goalkeeper Maria Kisha finished with nine saves and Lady Rough Riders junior goalie Liz Hartung stopped 11 shots.
The Lady Blue Devils are scheduled to visit Cloverleaf Sept. 12 in Lodi, American Conference rival Copley Sept. 14 and Rootstown Sept. 17. All three games are set to begin at 7 p.m.