Take a struggling 2A soccer team from a rural buffer of the Triangle and put it up against one of the region’s powerhouse 4A programs and the result will be predictable.
South Granville played with pluckiness last week against East Chapel Hill, but that wasn’t nearly enough as the Wildcats won 6-1.
It seemed like it could have been worse.
Even with all the pluck of a host of angels on heavenly harps, an inexperienced varsity from a significantly smaller school is going to struggle against East Chapel Hill, which has three state championships and countless conference titles in its history.
South Granville’s problems were compounded by coach Marc Phillips’s Dean Smithesque decision on principle in the preseason to dismiss several experienced players who felt they had too much seniority to tote equipment to and from games. That left South Granville (1-4-0) with one senior and just three juniors as its most experienced players.
“A lot of our players are just now learning the game,” Phillips said. “They’re playing soccer for the first time when they joined this team.”
East Chapel Hill’s fortunes are diametrically opposed to South Granville’s. The Wildcats lost five all-conference players from last year’s 14-5-0 team – four to graduation and one freshman who relocated to New England – but East still had five players back with PAC-6 honors from 2014: seniors Emma Daum, Neely Holroyd, Clauda Sollee and Callie Williams, plus junior Mia Colloredo.
“Obviously they (East) play at a much higher level than us and play in a much tougher conference than us,” Phillips said. “But this is a necessary learning experience for us.
“What we learned is that we have a lot of work left to do.”
Not surprisingly, many home fans in the sparse crowd that showed up Wednesday at South Granville’s patchy field, located deep in a wood adjacent to the school’s main campus, lost interest early in the match. They talked more about fishing and what would be on the night’s TV listings than they discussed soccer.
Emma Daum (3 goals) and Sierra Lindquist (2 goals, 1 assist) each scored in the game first 20 minutes to help East (2-1-1) lead 2-0 at halftime. After Daum’s two second-half goals, one unassisted and one coming off an assist from Brynn Donnelly, Neely Holroyd (1 goal, 1 assist) added an insurance goal in the 59th minute with an assist going to her younger sister Maggie Holroyd.
Lindquist ended the scoring with a penalty kick with 20:31 remaining, after she had been dragged down inside the penalty area.
“This was really good for us,” Daum said. “It was good to use all our players. Everyone played at least 15 minutes.”
East coach Austin Collins was pleased to see the second-half goals, noting that the ‘Cats had scored just two goals total in its three preceding games.
“Tonight we looked a lot better moving forward and getting behind them some,” he said. “We did much better at creating more scoring chances.”