CARY — With every game down the stretch becoming more meaningful, Panther Creek’s girls’ soccer – No. 4 in The News & Observer rankings – held off the No. 15 Cary Imps by a 2-1 score on Wednesday night.
The game had a grinding feel as the host Catamounts (12-2-1, 12-2) withstood and early goal from Cary (9-5-2, 7-5-2) and came back.
Feeling the impact: With one week left in the regular season, Panther Creek is certain to be no lower than the Tri-9’s 2-seed in the state playoffs. Cary’s loss drops them to fourth in the Tri-9, which likely means the Imps must win out to have a shot at finishing third. Holly Springs (11-5-1, 8-5-1) is currently in third, but has one game left against winless Lee County.
Panther Creek plays Lee County Thursday, then ends the season with a game at Green Hope.
What worked: Panther Creek likes to possess the ball more, and they did just that. Cary was unable to get the ball off Panther Creek for long stretches, making it hard to stop the Catamounts’ steady climb towards the tying and go-ahead goals.
“We usually try to possess more instead of just trying to kick the ball and I think that’s what we’re all about. We pass around the offensive players just to be able to get it forward and hopefully have more numbers going forward,” said sophomore Briana Velasquez.
Unsung hero: It was senior night, and as one sign – which crossed out “senior” and wrote “Hanna” in its place – noted, the Catamounts only had one.Midfielder Hanna Socha is the team’s only senior, and helps hold things together for the possession-driven Catamounts.
“She holds things down for us wether it’s going good or going bad,” Panther Creek coach David Grant said. “There are not too many people that sit up in the stands who notice her. But if you’re a soccer person or you’re around enough to see our games you can tell who (has impact).”
Putting up numbers: Bria Dixon put Cary on top first, but the score was answered by Panther Creek's Emma Socha later in the first half.
Alex Pagano scored on a breakaway thanks to an assist from Socha in the 47th minute to put the Catamounts up 2-1.
Blake: 919-460-2606; On Twitter: @JMBpreps