HOLLY SPRINGS — firstname.lastname@example.org
Under Cary coach Laura Kerrigan, the Imps girls soccer team has become known for its dangerous set pieces. And needing a spark against Holly Springs in a large Tri-Nine Conference match on Wednesday night, Cary relied on one of its strengths to break through.
A corner kick and a free kick - both coming in the second half - were the difference as the Imps took a 2-0 victory over the host Golden Hawks in a match that featured two of the Tri-Nine’s top three teams.
"We’ve done a good job converting some of the chances we have off of set pieces, which is good, because it’s something we spend some time on and want to make sure we can take advantage of," Kerrigan said.
It was also a relief to the Imps (8-2-1, 7-2), who had a hard time getting anything going against Holly Springs (6-3-2, 4-2-2) during the first half.
"We did not get one decent shot on goal although we had the majority of the possession," Kerrigan said.After being organized defensively for much of the game, an injury to Holly Springs senior captain Natalie Noel opened up Cary’s scoring chances. Noel, a center back, was shaken up just a few minutes into the second half and did not return.
Cary freshman Kyra Kandel fired three shots on goal - with one pushed wide left and the other two saved - in the first six minutes of the second half.
After Holly Springs goalkeeper Suzie Zigante knocked a Cary shot out of bounds, Cary senior Nikki Hoff set up for the corner kick.
Hoff’s kick went to the near post, and Kandel was waiting there unmarked to head it past a defenseless Zigante to put the Imps up with 33:59 left in the game.
"I started off at the keeper - I was one step off," Kandel said. "If that situation comes and the ball comes short, by mindset was that if this comes in I have to head it in for a goal."
With 24:39 remaining, Cary junior Anna Witte lifted a free kick from just inside midfield to the box, where it was headed first by Samantha Bagherpour and then headed in by Bria Dixon.
"I kicked it hoping someone would get on the end of it," said Witte, who had an earlier free kick hit the crossbar. "We’re just fearless in the box. Everybody gets up and gets their head on it when we need them to."
Dixon - a Virginia Tech recruit - had come charging into the box to put the score home, but collided with other players and had to be carried off the field.
Cary, still second in the Tri-Nine, doesn’t play again until after next week’s spring break. The Hawks, who are now fourth in the Tri-Nine, play once more - today at Leesville Road for a non-conference game - before having the week off.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps