HOLLY SPRINGS — Holly Springs coach Doug Greenberg said his team is in a good mental state, and it showed Tuesday night.
Players Taylor Ferguson, Evan Allen and Sean Mayefskie had a quiet confidence, knowing their team was better than it had showed earlier this year. The first game with Middle Creek had gone all wrong, and now the stage was set for the second meeting, with the Mustangs the visitor.
The Golden Hawks were not flustered when the visiting Mustangs went up by two in less than two minutes.
The Hawks held steady and begin to pour on the goals to open up a seven-goal cushion that paved the way for a 12-10 victory.
“We wanted to show them who we really were,” Ferguson said.
The Hawks, sixth in The News & Observer area rankings, showed no rust after a week off for spring break, outscoring fifth-ranked Middle Creek 5-0 in the second quarter as part of a 11-3 run.
Four late goals by Middle Creek, which won the previous meeting 11-4, cut the lead to two with 48 seconds left.
“I think we’ve come a long way,” said Allen, a defender who – like Ferguson – had two goals. “At the beginning of the season we’d come into the games timid. We got a few wins under our belt and started getting more confident and just started working for each other.”
Highlight reel: Middle Creek thought it had cleared the zone late in the first half, but Mayefskie stepped in front of the outlet pass, then quickly flipped it to an unmarked Will Forrestal, who scored at close range.
Unsung hero: Greenberg said Mayefskie, a junior midfielder, does all of the little things that stats may not account for.
His presence in the midfield helped keep the Hawks in control.
“It’s a hard challenge to have a 100 percent game where we’re always up. It’s like a balance beam,” Mayefskie said. “They started to come back in the end, but our defense... we kept up with that.”
Putting up numbers: Holly Springs’ Andrew Ruskey had three goals while Forrestal had two. Davis Ferguson and Phillip Arnold each had one goal for the Hawks (7-3, 6-3).
For the Mustangs (6-4, 5-4), Graham Southwick had three goals, while Ben Doetzer and Alex Kaminski had two goals and one assist each. Jack Doetzer, Dylan Bryan and Justin Medwar each tallied one goal.
Needs improvement: Middle Creek coach Paul Robison said he was hoping his team wouldn’t come out sloppy coming off spring break, but the Mustangs lost four straight draws to start the second quarter, leading to four Holly Springs goals in 1 minute, 34 seconds.
“The team wasn’t ready to play a competitive game today, just not mentally prepared,” Robison said. “In the first half, we weren’t sliding well to the body, so they were getting into the crease area. We just weren’t getting good stops.”
Feeling the impact: A Middle Creek win would have likely cemented the Mustangs as no lower than third in Conference 2, important because the league has three automatic playoff bids.
Blake: 919-460-2606; On Twitter: @JMBpreps