RALEIGH — The best offense for Leesville Road’s girls soccer team came when Sanderson kicked the ball out of bounds deep in its own territory.
Sanderson allowed Leesville Road to have 11 corner kicks Wednesday night. The Pride scored on two of them. That was enough for Leesville Road to secure a 3-1 victory.
What surprised coach Paul Dinkenor was that it took the Pride longer than usual to score. In fact, Leesville Road trailed for much of the first half.
Sanderson started the match by keeping eight players back on defense to limit Leesville Road’s scoring changes.
“Your temptation is to just bang the ball in the middle,” Dinkenor said. “Once we stopped doing that, and we drew them out, we played really well.”
The Spartans put pressure on the Pride by moving the ball methodically up the field. Then, Sanderson produced its goal in the 22nd minute.
Sanderson forward Taylor Wood went to the sideline and put the ball on the ground for her unusual flip throw-in. Wood’s throw, which went over 40 feet, landed inside the penalty box where forward Grace Todd headed it into the net.
“It’s chaotic,” Leesville Road forward Caroline Gentry said of the play. “It seems so easy to win the ball but then it’s not because there are so many people in the box.”
Leesville Road (16-1-1, 11-1 Cap Eight 4A) responded and gained momentum, just before halftime in the 38th minute.
Midfielder Courtney Johnson found Gentry near the back of the post on the Pride’s fifth corner kick. Gentry’s header went pass Sanderson goalkeeper Kaylyn Braga.
“That was an outstanding cross from Courtney and a brilliant header from Caroline,” Dinkenor said.
Bayley Rigsbee, a midfielder, said the Pride look for Gentry on most corner kicks.
“Every time I’m right behind, and it usually works out,” Rigsbee said. “That goal really calmed us down.”
In the 53rd minute, Rigsbee found the ball near her right foot after a corner kick by midfielder Nicole Park. Among the crowd in the penalty box, Rigsbee slid her shot into the net.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work on set plays,” Dinkenor said. “We want to have a lot options on corners and it nice to have Bayley stick the ball in.”
The Pride is now on a seven-game winning streak. They also remain one game behind undefeated Millbrook in the conference standings with two conference games left.
The last time Sanderson (6-6-4, 5-5-2) loss a match, it was to Millbrook on March 21. Before Wednesday, the Spartans had won four of their last five matches.
Sanderson did have a few opportunities to tie the match in the second half.
However, Gentry put the match out of reach in the 72nd minute when she scored her second goal the way she normally does: She just outran the Spartans before taking her shot from 20 yards away.
“It was really tough because they have so many defenders,” Gentry said. “It took time, but we figured it out.”