Sanderson quickly asserted itself as the dominant team in its Thursday nonconference matchup with Knightdale, as the Spartans skated to a 7-0 victory, the team’s first win of the year.
More than the score itself, Sanderson coach Todd Worley was eager to see what some of the team’s younger players were capable of contributing early in the season.
“That was the goal coming in,” Worley said. “We started some different people than (against Apex) just to see what we have, and I thought everyone played well. Our defense is coming together a little bit and we’re still trying to find scoring and someone who’s a true scorer, and our freshman, Virginia (Blake), did that tonight and had two goals.”
Both of Blake’s goals came in the first half following the opening score in the fifth minute by senior defender Mary Boylan to put Sanderson ahead 3-0 by the intermission.
“Obviously we made a lot of errors as a team, and the scoreline could have been much different for us and the outcome could have been different; but this game by any means does not dictate the season,” Knightdale coach Collin Dalton said. “We’re still optimistic and we’re going to look at the game film and see how we can get better.”
Knightdale returns a full field of players, something the second-year coach hopes will allow the team to continue building on style of play, possession and attacking schemes implemented last season when the Knights finished 11-3 in the Greater Neuse River Conference.
“With the weather we’ve had to struggle with practice time, so game time has really become practice time as well,” Dalton said. “The girls will learn and will overcome it and get better very quickly. … These games when we’re playing Sanderson and other Cap-8 teams, it’s a definite challenge for us and it gives the girls a good snapshot of things they can do better.”
Knightdale had a full schedule of Cap Eight opponents this week, hosting nationally-ranked Millbrook Wednesday, Wake Forest on Thursday and Enloe on Friday.
Worley said Thursday was the first time the two schools’ programs had played each other.
“I was impressed with what (Dalton) has done with them. I thought they played a nice style of soccer,” Worley said. “We had a few more athletes than they did and that’s what created the goals. Their defensive setup allowed us to get behind them some, but I thought their upfront and their middle was very good.
“It is early because we haven’t had a lot of practice time. I think (we’re) a strong team. If it’s top-of-the-conference strong, I don’t know. It’ll be whether we see how our defense and our mids come together. We’re starting a freshman at middle right now, so we’ll see how she progresses, but I think we’ve got a shot to be a good team.”
Also scoring for the Spartans Thursday were sophomore midfielder Ana Sheridan, senior midfielder Monica Driscoll, senior midfielder Amy Owens and freshman midfielder Taylor Van Dyke.
Sanderson (1-0-1) opened the season with a draw at Apex and will face defending state champion Green Hope Wednesday.
“(Green Hope is) going to be different, but they’ve got a lot of talent, and again they’re well-coached,” Worley said. “It’s going to be a matter of our girls playing our best soccer. I saw they lost to Leesville 2-1, but that just tells you how good Leesville is, but I think Green Hope is going to be a strong test for us.”