RALEIGH — Sanderson jumped to an early lead and never looked back in a 4-1 victory against visiting Middle Creek in the first round of the 4A boys soccer playoffs Tuesday.
Getting goals early really helps you kind of calm down for a tough first round match-up, Sanderson coach Todd Worley said.
The leading goal-scorer for the Spartans, Connor Francis, got Sanderson on the board in the 10th minute.
Francis beat his defender then tried a cross across the goal mouth that was blocked by a Middle Creek defender. The ball caromed back to Francis whose first shot was saved by goalkeeper Connor Talbot but the rebound came back to Francis and his second attempt went in for the score and his 28th goal of the season.
Twenty-two minutes later into the first, the Spartans Ryan Turner directed a header into the goal off a throw in by Troy Willard for a 2-0 lead.
Turner followed it up in the 37th minute when Talbot misplayed a long Spartan pass to Turner at the top of the box. Turner collected the loose ball behind Talbot and a defender and calmly kicked into the empty goal for a 3-0 lead.
Turner has scored five goals in Sandersons last two games. Turner had a hat-trick in the Cap-Eight conference finals against Wakefield.
Prior to that, Turner had 11 goals for the season.
Ryan Turner is playing the best hes played in the three years at Sanderson, and has really helped us get to the next level, Worley said. Hes on fire right now. Hes an effort player and hes getting to the right places at the right time.
In the second half, Sanderson (22-1-2) increased its lead with Dylan Haynes header. Francis sent a line drive corner kick toward Haynes who deftly headed it into the net for the score at the 52nd minute.
For most of the game, Middle Creek (11-8-3) was unable to muster much offense against Sanderson.
Our midfield did a god job of handling (Middle Creek) and our defense has been real steady. And when you got a steady defense that means you can attack pretty well, and we were able to do that tonight, Worley said.
The Mustangs were able to break the shutout at the 79th minute. Bryson Weaver received a centering pass from Austin Melzer. Weavers kick deflected off the hands of reserve goalkeeper Corey Cartano and into the net for the score. Cartano had entered the game at the 69th minute to rest starter Nick Bascunan-Wiley.
We wanted to execute, knock the ball around, and try and get some chances, Middle Creek coach Eddie Wasdell said. We had a few breakdowns tonight, and (Sanderson) is a good team and they took advantage of it.
The Spartans will host Jordan Saturday in the second round. Jordan defeated Athens Drive 3-0.