RALEIGH — What can you take away from a tie?
Sometimes it has everything to do with how the tie was earned. But in the case of Sanderson and Panther Creek, which tied 1-1 in a Thursday night nonconference game, they’ll grade themselves based on how it’ll prepare them for these next few weeks.
Sanderson (5-1-1), in a three-way tie for first in the Cap-8 Conference, has showdowns with juggernaut Leesville Road and loaded Millbrook next week.
Panther Creek (4-0-1), undefeated in Tri-9 play, will soon know where it stands after its next three games – against arguably the league’s three best in Cary, Holly Springs and Green Hope.
“We hadn’t played competition at this level, and this is good to have going into this week,” Panther Creek coach David Grant said. “I’m proud to be coaching this team and I’m happy to be coaching this team and this team will prove moving forward, sooner rather than later, where they belong in their conference.”
What worked: Panther Creek controlled the midfield, particularly in the first half, thanks to sure-footed play from the team’s only senior, Hannah Socha. Sanderson was a threat on set pieces, coming close on some of its corner kicks and full front-flip throws from Taylor Wood.
One corner kick led to a scrum where a Spartans player was tripped inside the box. Savannah Parrish buried the penalty kick into the upper left corner of the goal in the 10th minute.
“We had to work really hard and be on our toes the whole game,” said Sanderson junior Grayson Montgomery. “We had to stay strong and fight for every ball.”
It’s only the second goal PC has given up this year.
Needs improvement: Panther Creek had trouble finishing in the final third. Some of that was bad fortune – the Catamounts hit the crossbar four times, three times bouncing down back in play close to the goal mouth.
But Grant said his players were shooting from too far out to begin with.
“Once we got into the attacking third, we wanted to give it off,” Socha said. “We weren’t selfish enough.”
Panther Creek’s only goal came in the 19th minute when junior Alex Pagano sent in a rebound after a corner kick.
History shows: It’s a fantastic start for Panther Creek, whose highest finish in the Tri-9 is second-place in 2009. Since 2008, Sanderson’s highest finish in the Cap-8 is third (2009 and 2010).
Best quote: “Panther Creek’s really good. I’d put them in the upper group in Raleigh. And the first 20 minutes, they took it to us. We got better as it went,” said Sanderson coach Todd Worley.
Blake: 919-460-2606; On Twitter: @JMBpreps