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updated: 4/5/2014 5:47 PM

Ruffer, Glenbard East roll to victory

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  • Glenbard East's Brittany Paganucci, left, battles Fenton's Daisy Mora, right, during girls soccer action in Lombard.

      Glenbard East's Brittany Paganucci, left, battles Fenton's Daisy Mora, right, during girls soccer action in Lombard.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

By Bill Stone
Daily Herald Correspondent

Senior center midfielder Alex Ruffer and her Glenbard East girls soccer teammates are off to a fast start this season.

The Rams outdid themselves Saturday against Fenton.

Sophomore Brittany Paganucci scored only 30 seconds into the game, and it was a sign of things to come in the Rams' 9-0 victory in Lombard.

"We've done it a couple of times, but it kind of surprised all of us," Ruffer said. "We were doing well in the beginning."

Paganucci and Ruffer each scored twice for the Rams (5-1-1) and juniors Holly Ward, Corie Ewoldt, Jessica Whipple, Jordyn Fulton and Lisa Valgiusti also had goals. Senior Taylor Hallcox and Whipple had 2 assists and sophomore Amanda Chlebek, Ruffer and Paganucci each had one.

Both teams hadn't played since March 29. The Rams were coming off a tough 1-0 loss to Lincoln-Way North at Toyota Park for the championship of Reavis' Windy City Classic. The Rams were returning to Toyota Park on Saturday evening to be honored at halftime of the Chicago Fire game.

"This was a good bounce-back game. We gave them five days off, so they were ready to get back out there," Glenbard East coach Kyle Overbey said. "I thought we did a very good job of taking advantage of our chances."

The Rams have scored 22 goals and allowed only three with five shutouts. Paganucci, who had two of the Rams' first three goals, has 5 goals and 4 assists as the only sophomore starter. Ruffer has 4 goals and 7 assists.

After assisting Ward's goal, Ruffer had the Rams' last two goals of the first half for a 7-0 lead. Fulton converted a penalty kick and Valgiusti added her first varsity goal off Whipple's corner kick during the 20-minute second half.

Now in her fourth varsity season, Ruffer is hoping for a strong finish after committing in September to play Division I soccer next season at Western Michigan. She and the Rams are seeking their first regional title.

"This is our first D-I player, which is great for us," Overbey said. "Especially the example she sets (helps us). She trains hard. She puts in extra sprints. She does what she needs to do to make sure she's at the top of her game."

Ruffer was a team captain in 2013 and is co-captain this season with senior defender Kelly Ravenscraft, a third-year varsity player. Hallcox is the Rams' only other senior.

"I think I just learned how to be a good captain (last year), how to lead the team and how to get us through losses. It's good that I have another year here so I can help everyone else younger," Ruffer said. "Our goals are to win regionals and just to improve from last year (11-10-2 record)."

Busy senior goalie Selena Mendoza played well for Fenton (2-1), making 9 saves and stopping two point-blank shots or breakaways.

The Bison were minus a couple of key players and had others who played feeling ill. They also lost starter Laura Sanchez to a concussion with 13 minutes left in the first half.

"That's no excuse, but you're playing a quality team like Glenbard East. They were always two steps ahead of us," Fenton coach Victor Ruiz said. "(Mendoza) made a lot of big saves. I told her, 'A lot of the saves you were required to make, you made them.' A lot of the other ones were defensive mistakes, but she had a great game."

The Bison had only three shots but junior goalie Rachel Anderson still had to snuff an open attempt by Abril Rojas with less than six minutes left after she stole the ball at the top of the box.

Anderson is part of the Rams' strong goaltending trio with junior Haley Lydon and sophomore Sierra Dana. Lydon joined Ruffer and Paganucci on the All-Windy City Classic Team after three tournament shutouts. Dana also had a tournament shutout and relieved Lydon and allowed no goals in the shootout for a 1-0 semifinal victory over Fenwick.

"They're all great. Even though they're fighting for one position, they're cheering each other on," Overbey said. "There was no clear cut winner (during tryouts) and there still isn't. We do not have a set starter at this point."

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