RALEIGH — Sanderson scored early with a one-two punch and held Leesville Road scoreless Wednesday to beat the Pride 3-0 and remain undefeated.
Midfielders senior Connor Francis and junior Ryan Turner put Sanderson up 2-0 in the first 11 minutes, forcing Leesville Road to play from behind for much of the matchup between two of the area’s top teams.
“We wanted to come out and put them away early, so scoring two minutes into the game was huge,” Francis said.
The goals came on a throw-in and a set piece, things Leesville Road coach Paul Dinkenor said his team should have been ready for.
“I was a little bit disappointed,” Dinkenor said. “You prepare on the practice field for a set play and we just didn’t perform defensively there. …That was somewhat deflating.”
The quick scores allowed the Spartans to relax a little toward the midway point, giving Leesville Road (6-3) a few chances, but the Pride couldn’t get on the scoreboard.
The Spartans picked up the intensity again toward the end of the game, and Francis scored another in the 76th minute to put the Spartans up 3-0.
“We’re lucky to have four good senior defenders led by Josh Lull and Freddie Woodward,” said Sanderson coach Todd Worley.
The shutout was the seventh straight for Sanderson (9-0-1).
Worley said in order to continue its success, his Sanderson team will need to maintain intensity throughout games and leave fewer goals on the field, but his players shouldn’t feel any added pressure with their undefeated record.
“The biggest thing we talk about is respect us, respect Sanderson and respect soccer,” he said.
Both teams are ranked in the top ten among 4A teams in the state. Sanderson is ranked No. 4 and Leesville Road is ranked No. 7.
“We didn’t deserve to win,” Dinkenor said. “Sanderson was the better team tonight, but three games into conference play, there’s a lot of play left.”
Leesville Road hosts Millbrook Monday.
Sanderson will host No. 12 Heritage at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in a make-up game from last week’s weather cancellation.
“To start out 3-0 in conference is huge,” Francis said. “So far we’ve played some big teams, and Heritage will be a big one. … We’re just taking it one game at a time.”