TIFFIN — When dribbling a soccer ball, Payton Ruckdaschel can disguise which toe has the touch with dizzying footwork. When the ball was played out of bounds, she incorporated an acrobatic somersault into her throw-in.
The finest trick for the Independence senior, however, is her tried-and-true ability to put the ball in the net.
“I’ve just been trying to work to get better at it each year,” Ruckdaschel said with a laugh after scoring the go-ahead goal in a 2-1 victory for Independence over Class 2A No. 14 Clear Creek Amana in a Wamac Conference girls’ soccer match on Tuesday at Clear Creek Amana High School. “The throw-in is new. That is so new.”
Ruckdaschel recorded her first assist of the season in the opening minutes of the match on a goal by freshman Libby Webb. Shen then broke a 1-1 tie just 38 seconds into the second half with a strike.
“I just saw God giving me the opportunity to score and I knew I had to take it,” Ruckdaschel said. “It was just all him, all this game.”
A four-year starter for Independence, Ruckdaschel was a second team all-conference selection last season when she led the Mustangs with 12 goals. This year, her scoring tally is already at 10, a big reason why Independence (6-2, 6-1 Wamac) sits atop the West Division of the Wamac.
Independence senior goalkeeper Halle Ratchford withstood several Clear Creek Amana attacks on the goal during a frebnetic final 20 minutes to preserve victory, the first for Independence over the Clippers since 2013. The Mustangs won just seven matches last season. Now under first-year Coach Shawn Conaway, Independence could equal that mark as soon as this Friday with a home match against second-ranked Marion.
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“It all kind of goes back to you play how you practice,” said Conaway, who has served as the Director of Coaching for the recreation soccer leagues in Independence for the past 10 years. “Every night in practice I demand the best and they give the best. When it gets time here on the field, they lift each other up in spirit and play their guts out.”
Sophomore Ellen Austin scored the only goal for Clear Creek Amana (5-2, 4-2), which lost for just the third time in 14 matches dating back to last season.
Independence 2, Class 2A Clear Creek Amana 1
Goals — IND: Libby Webb (3), Payton Ruckdaschel (10); CCA: Ellen Austin (3).
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