The Apex High boys soccer team has been involved in several Southwest Wake Athletic Conference thrillers this season, but Wednesday night wasn’t one of them.
The fast-paced Cougars ran roughshod over Middle Creek, scoring four first-half goals en route to a convincing 5-0 home field win. It marked quite the contrast since the last matchup between the area rivals as Apex eked out a 3-2 overtime win at Middle Creek on Sept. 8.
The Cougars (9-3-1, 5-2) took charge early on as Will Tomlinson was credited with an own goal midway through the first half.
“I’ll take it,” Tomlinson said. “It got our momentum going.”
Jake Grieco then scored the first of his two goals with a low, hard shot into the back of the net just two minutes later. Grieco flashed his speed midway through the second half, shaking off a defender before slipping a shot into the right side of the goal for the final margin.
Grieco said he didn’t derive any extra satisfaction from being the match’s lone two-goal scorer.
“It’s team-first. Wins mean more than any personal achievements,” Grieco said. “Tonight we kept the ball on the ground and kept the (Mustangs) tired.”
Middle Creek (5-6-4. 2-5-1) had its opportunities to get on the scoreboard, especially early in the first half. Chris Gottberg even had a penalty attempt, but his shot went just wide of the goal.
It was that kind of match for the Mustangs, who saw their opportunities dry up in the second half as the Cougars maintained ball possession via quick, crisp passing.
Sean McMurray and Patrick Bailey also scored for Apex, while Patrick Kenney and Nicholas Madrid were among the team’s defensive standouts.
Cougars coach Kevin Todd couldn’t have been more pleased with his team’s play.
“It was a great night for us and a good way to enter the second half of the season,” Todd said. “We put a lot of good things together and produced a clean sheet (shutout).”
Middle Creek coach Eddie Wasdell credited Apex for playing at a higher level than his squad.
“The Cougars are a quality team; we tried to make adjustments but they didn’t work,” Wasdell said. “Their speed created scoring opportunities.”
And Apex’s finishers capitalized well on those chances.