CARY — Panther Creek’s boys’ soccer coach David Grant felt like changing his lineup was worth a shot, so he moved central midfielder James Compton to forward to start alongside striker Josh Toma.
The result was what Grant was looking for, as the Catamounts controlled its Tri-9 Conference game with Lee County from start to finish. Compton scored twice and Toma had two assists in the 7-3 victory Wednesday night.
Grant called Compton, a three-year starter, the team’s motor.
“We just needed a spark,” said Grant. “We just changed it up today to see if it changed anything when it comes to finishing.”
And it did.
After the Catamounts controlled possession for most of the game, Compton scored in the 24th.
Three minutes later, PC (3-6, 3-3) doubled its lead after Spencer Saunders put away a goal after a scrum in the box. Toma got the assist for laying off a pass to the open Saunders.
The last four minutes before half saw three goals.
In the 36th minute, Panther Creek made it 3-0 with a left-flank breakaway from Daniel Galkowski, who pushed his shot to the far post and just beyond the reach of goalkeeper Dalton Spivey.
The Catamounts’ Thomas Astolfi volleyed in a rebound after it was punched out by Spivey in the 38th minute, and about 30 seconds later, Lee County answered with a breakaway by Ben Grossfuss to make it 4-1 before halftime.
In the second half, Toma’s deep throw into the box took a wrong-way deflection from a Lee County header and went into the net for an own goal.
Lee’s Adam Diven drew a foul in the box, leading to William Carter’s successful penalty goal in the *th minute to make it 5-2.
Toma’s corner kick settled in front of Brendan O’Dowd for Panther Creek’s goal in the 51st minute, and Compton scored 20 seconds later after an assist from Canyon Dell’Omo.
While the Yellow Jackets couldn’t finish a few close set pieces, the Catamounts were sending in almost every opportunity.
“We really finished on our chances tonight, which is something we’ve struggled with in a few games,” said Dell’Omo.
The Yellow Jackets’ final goal came from Sergio Charco, while Grossfuss got the assist.
Lee County (5-5, 1-4) had three previous one-goal conference losses – including ones to top-tier teams like Apex and Middle Creek.
“Last year, even though we beat them both times pretty good, I thought that their coach (Brad Wicker) has done a great job of getting them to play with the talent that he’s had,” Grant said. “This year, it didn’t really surprise me that they’ve gotten better.”
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps