CARY — One week, Middle Creek’s boys’ soccer team was enjoying a top-five ranking in the Triangle and a comfortable position in the Tri-9 Conference’s top three. Then came five-game win streaks by rivals Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina, and the Mustangs were in comfortable position no more.
But rather than fade, Middle Creek has responded with its own win streak.
Wednesday’s 3-0 victory at Panther Creek was the Mustangs’ third shutout win.
“We had a strong start, but other teams have really picked up their play,” Middle Creek coach Eddie Wasdell said. “We had a run of results we didn’t want to have, but hopefully we’re in the right direction now to hopefully finish in the top three and as high as we can go.”
The Mustangs (11-3-3, 7-3-2), ranked 14th in the News & Observer Triangle-area ranings, have outscored opponents 9-0 in their last three games while still rotating goalkeepers Connor Talbot and Anibal Montalvo at halftime. Wasdell credited both keepers for playing well and added that better communication on the back line and better work rate in the midfield has helped spark this run as well.
Junior Noah Dickerson wasn’t on last year’s varsity, but learned a lot after a team meeting after a five-game winless streak. Dickerson said Wasdell told the players about why the Mustangs missed last year’s playoffs, losing a three-way tie for the last spot. The dooming stretch was a six-game winless streak in the middle of the season.
“We had to turn the season around right then, and we just started wanting it more,” Dickerson said. “We definitely felt that pressure. We were seeing teams saying that we weren’t as good as we were and we were feeling it. I think we stepped up and handled it pretty well and we’re going to try to keep it going.”
Middle Creek took a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute as senior Daniel Dumitrescu headed a Dylan Jenkins cross to the far post and in.
Wasdell called it one of the best goals of the Mustangs’ season.
“I knew everyone was in there,” Jenkins said. “It was really crowded, and I figured if I just got it in we’d be able to get a head on it.”
The Mustangs doubled its lead in the 39th minute after senior Matthew Nelson ripped in a goal following a scrum resulting from a deep Brandon Millington free kick. Dickerson slotted in the game’s third goal in the 51st minute as teammate Nick Valore set him up with a onsides through ball to create a 1-v-1 with the PC goalkeeper.
Panther Creek (4-12, 3-9) lost its fifth straight game overall and sixth straight in the Tri-9.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps