RALEIGH — Thursday’s matchup between two of the area’s top teams was also a squaring off of national powers, but one team dominated from start to finish.
Green Hope, ranked No.1 in the nation, notched its eighth shutout of the year, topping No. 13 Millbrook 3-0.
“The kind of game we played today is kind of a testing of where we are and what we really need to work on,” said Green Hope coach Bobby Peterson. “It takes a team like Millbrook or like we’re going to play on Monday in Panther Creek, that we’ll really get a good look at what we’re doing wrong and what we need to correct.”
Green Hope (10-0, 7-0 Tri-Nine) has easily handled its opponents through the early weeks of the season, and came out attacking in usual fashion against Millbrook. The Falcons came into the game averaging nearly seven goals a game and has allowed two total goals all season.
Millbrook spent much of the first half trying to protect its own goal. Green Hope stayed in a constant attack mode and lead 2-0 at the half.
Green Hope senior Alexis Degler put the Falcons on the board in the seventh minute, sending Alexis Shaffer’s pass past Millbrook goalkeeper Anna Shelden and into the right side of the goal.
“We knew that getting a goal early for us is really big because once you score, the second and third come easier,” Degler said.
Junior forward Callie McClain followed by putting in a Maura McDonnell cross in the 30th minute.
Peterson took the matchup against Millbrook as a chance to test his starters by leaving them in for the entire game. He hoped the experience would help prepare the team for the playoffs.
The players responded by making adjustments and maintaining control throughout.
“Nothing was coming easy against them, and that goalkeeper, you had to earn goals against her ... (Our starters) performed well from beginning to end,” Peterson said. “It was testy. There were moments, but that’s what we needed, and that’s what we were looking for.”
Shelden’s play in front of the goal helped keep the Millbrook within striking distance, as the home team held Green Hope without a second-half score for more than 20 minutes.
Millbrook (8-1, 6-0 Cap-8) looked to take advantage, taking more shots early in the second half than it did in the entire first half, but Green Hope keeper Lisa Armstrong protected the net to secure the shutout.
The Falcons’ drought was halted in the 62nd minute when McDonnell scored on a third-chance shot, scooting in a Degler rebound that ricocheted off the crossbar.
“We know from playing them last year and reading about them that they’re the best team around, so you gauge yourself against them,” said Millbrook coach Matt Edwards.