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JF's Crider and Ratliff ready for next level

By Mike Forster

 

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They've made their marks on Jefferson Forest soccer.

Pretty soon, Cassidy Ratliff and Matt Crider will be doing so at the next level.

The pair of Jefferson Forest standouts signed letters of intent last Wednesday to play college ball.  Ratliff will be heading to Radford, while Crider is going to the United States Naval Academy.

Ratliff has been a prolific scorer whose toughness and aggressiveness have been matched only by her speed on the field.

She was awarded a scholarship to play at Radford primarily because of her speed and her scoring mindset.

That mindset, coupled with her physical talents, has propelled the rapidamente Ratliff to the top ten of the Jefferson Forest scoring leader board.

Her 50 career goals have her in seventh place, overall.  She's also listed as seventh in total points.

Ratliff is actually in striking range of all-time goals leader Chelsea Hayes, who put in 73 over her run at Jefferson Forest.

Ratliff had invited Radford to take in one of her games.  The Highlander staff was immediately impressed.

When she visited the campus, the feeling became mutual.  "The campus had a lot of what I really wanted," she said.  "Being Division 1, they have more amenities and facilities that Division 2 schools don't have."

Ratliff, who is likely to plug in at outside midfielder or attacking center midfielder, is planning on majoring in nursing.

Attention, future patients:  She'll be a hard one to keep up with!

Crider has made a huge impact on the JF program since he first donned the black and red varsity jersey as a freshman.

In fact, during that freshman campaign, Crider helped lead the Cavs to glory.  In the 2011 State championship tourney, held at Radford, Crider scored the winning goal in the Cavs' 1-0 semifinal win over Tabb.

To put the cherry on the sundae, one day later, he scored the game-winner in the final, a 2-1 victory over powerhouse Blacksburg.

That contest has been called by many, including this newspaper, as the greatest game in Jefferson Forest soccer history.

As a sophomore, Crider led JF in scoring, nailing 17 goals.  Even having lost a good number of players from the '11 championship team to graduation, the 2012 team still managed to finish 21-1-1, its sole loss coming at the hands of Jamestown in the State semifinal round.

Last year, Crider spent most of the season working with the Richmond Kickers organization, but was able to rejoin the Cavs midway through the season.

This year, the hope in the eastern part of the county is that he'll be with Jefferson Forest, though the rest of the Seminole District finds no solace in that news.

While Crider has been a scoring machine, the plan at Navy is to employ him on the defensive side of the house.  Moving him to the back line makes sense, given his size (6'1", 185 pounds) and his ability to take (and give out) big hits.

The fact that he was on the Cav football team last fall is proof of his physicality.

He has made no secret of his desire to attend the Naval Academy.

Ratliff has made no secret of her desire to play D-1 soccer.

It seems proper when a couple of our nice kids see their dreams come true.