Girls’ soccer: Panther Creek 4, Apex 2 (overtime)

Panther Creek finds answers in overtime, beats Apex

mblake@newsobserver.comApril 11, 2013 

— When Panther Creek has needed to respond this year, it’s done so.

Whether it be finding a goal nine minutes after Sanderson scored to force a non-conference tie or scoring six minutes after a Holly Springs game-tying goal to seal a win, the Catamounts have been answering their opponents’ call.

There were a few trying times for the Catamounts’ girls’ soccer team Wednesday night against visiting Apex, but both times – after going down a goal to start the game and after allowing a late tying goal – the No. 4 team in The News & Observer area rankings had a response.

PC coach David Grant is used to see that, and his team won 4-2 against the Cougars in overtime.

“Today we wrote up on the board the word ‘believe,’” Grant said. “We just kept telling them at halftime and in overtime to believe. There isn’t any reason to start changing or doing anything different... This is a very talented team, a quality team, and it is a team. And that’s why we pulled it out.”

After a scoreless first half, Apex’s Paige Reckert helped the Cougars take the game’s first lead. Reckert got knocked down in the box, got back up over the ball and found an open Kaitlin Walker at the top of the box.

Walker buried it for a 47th-minute goal.

Four minutes later, Panther Creek (9-1-1, 9-1) evened it up after a through ball from Courtney Cash sprung free Emma Socha. Socha, a sophomore, took one touch to move around the Apex goalkeeper, then buried the shot in the 51st.

“It was basically her work off the ball, and I just had to finish it and have composure on the ball – keep my cool and get around the keeper,” Socha said.

And in the 58th minute, the Catamounts’ Cash lifted a high-arching strike into the net off a Briana Velasquez assist, putting PC up 2-1.

“You get that half-second opening and you’ve just got to shoot it,” said Cash, a sophomore.

But Apex had what could have been a back-breaking goal.

Reckert got behind the defense to get on the receiving end of a long ball. She one-touched it to the far corner for her 15th goal of the year, tying the game in the 74th minute.

In overtime, Panther Creek took back control. Socha struck again in the 84th, taking the ball off two young Apex defenders in the box and rifling in a goal to the side-netting.

“We know what we want, and we want to win,” Socha said. “Good teams find a way to win, and tonight we found a way.”

The Catamounts added one more in the second overtime period, with Alex Pagano sending in a 91st-minute goal similar to Cash’s.

The Cougars (4-5-1, 4-5-1) had won four straight games entering the contest.

“We’re playing better as a team unit, but there are still so many challenges we have as a team. We’re not making enough offensive runs,” said Apex coach Kevin Todd. “We’re so young, and defensively speaking it’s about being able to learn the defensive team play. It’s a work in progress all along.”

Blake: 919-460-2606; On Twitter: @JMBpreps

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