It took sophomore midfielder Erin Giunco less than two minutes to break the ice in the Knightdale girls soccer team’s 8-0 rout of newly formed Rolesville on Wednesday.
Although the final score was heavily skewed in the Knights’ favor, the two teams took more from the match than just a tally in their respective win and loss columns.
For Knightdale (4-5 overall, 3-2 Greater Neuse River 4A), it was yet another step in the right direction after a poor start to the season. The Rams of Rolesville (0-9, 0-4), on the other hand, caught a glimpse of where they would like their program to be in the near future.
“I wanted our girls to be executing the game plan properly,” Knightdale head coach Collin Dalton said after the game. “That way, when we get into competitive matches – say if it’s a Cap-8 team – we can be properly prepared.”
The Knights wanted to put the heat on Rolesville right away, as Dalton placed a premium on execution in the attacking third of the field on Wednesday. His players’ response of eight scores was one more goal than the team had in the first eight games of the season combined.
With both a goal and an assist in the victory, Knightdale junior forward Elizabeth Snotherly saw some of the offensive improvement firsthand.
“We definitely got more practice in – more touches, passes,” Snotherly said. “We were able to cross the ball in more.”
One of Snotherly’s assists set up an easy strike from close range for senior forward Carly Mounts, who had two goals on the day. Snotherly, Mounts and freshman midfielder Taylor Ward, who also scored twice, were the three that benefited most from Knightdale’s sudden offensive outburst.
After losing the first three games of the season (at Sanderson, vs. Millbrook, at West Johnston) by a combined score of 24-1, Dalton and his Knights were pleased to finally find themselves on the winning end of a lopsided final score.
“We were struggling in the beginning in terms of identity,” Dalton said. “We’re going to fight and we’re going to keep fighting. That’s the mentality that we need to build, so that when we get to the end of the season and we have a chance at the playoffs, we can make a push.”
However, Dalton recalls a time not so long ago when Knightdale was in Rolesville’s cleats; an upstart program with little experience.
“We all start out that way,” Dalton said. “Knightdale started out that way years ago, getting blown out by teams without a mercy rule.”
Rams head coach Michelle D’Orazio sees her program, which currently consists solely of freshmen and sophomores, following the path blazed by Knightdale and other green squads that came before them.
“We’re taking it step by step,” D’Orazio said. “We’re really making sure that the girls are bonded as a team so that their energy level is always up.”
D’Orazio cites the speed of the game as the main inhibitor of her squad’s ability to compete closely with its opponents.
Although the loss to Knightdale was the Rams’ ninth straight to start the season, D’Orazio singled out several players including both of her sophomore captains, Lauren Grossman and Carson Evans, as ones who took a significant step forward in Wednesday’s match.
“Overall, we’ve made huge strides,” D’Orazio said. “From where we were in the middle of the season, we have made immense improvements. So I’m thinking in the next year we’re going to have a pretty good group of girls out here.”