First-year Knightdale girls soccer coach Madison Shope said a 4-2 win over East Wake on Wednesday was the result of her team outworking the Warriors, and she was right.
Knightdale (2-7, 2-4 Greater Neuse River 4A) outshot East Wake 9-4 and won the corner kick battle 6-2, scoring on one of the set crosses.
“They gel well and they just need to make sure they’re mentally prepared at all times,” Shope said. “Right now, we’re nursing a few injuries. We’re tending to get concussions, which is not good or helpful, but they are working very well together.”
The outcome left the Warriors with an identical record in and out of the GNRC.
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Shope said her team didn’t compete as well against East Wake as it did against Cap 8 Millbrook despite losing to the Wildcats on Monday.
“No matter what the team is, they need to make sure they’re playing at the same level,” Shope said. ”We played Millbrook, and we lost, but (our) level of play stepped up to Millbrook’s level. Today, even though we won, we were not as intense as we were Monday.”
East Wake is focused on day-to-day improvement. Halfway through the season, the team has already won as many games as it did all of last season.
“My main thing is just improvement on last year, and we’re getting there,” said first-year Warriors coach Bree Orth. “It’s not going to be a quick process but we are definitely improving and that is all I ask from them.”
Knightdale sophomore Taylor Ward smoked home the game’s opening goal from about 30 yards out after gaining control of an attempt by East Wake to clear the ball from in front of its goal less than three minutes into the contest. Ward went on to feed Tori Leech on a corner kick for the 2-0 lead 16 minutes in.
“We had a few miscommunications in the back with the corner kick – we didn’t get that cleared,” Orth said.
Leech scored again in the 19th on a feed by Leah McCray that she placed in the far end of the goal.
East Wake’s Alexa Bird put a temporary damper on the Knights’ momentum with her goal in the aftermath of a free kick by teammate Emma Cannon in the 31st minute. The score remained 3-1 at the half.
Orth was pleased with her stand-in keeper Kristina Hamrick, whose presence in the goal frees up Chloe Fanelli, a preferred midfielder. Several of Hamrick’s saves were hard fought.
“(She) is improving every day, and I think that’s huge for us,” Orth said. “Kristina is stepping up in goal and she kept us in the game today.”
Knightdale got its final goal as Eryn Geuss scored after a free kick by Ward in the 63rd minute. One minute later, a Knightdale handball in the box set East Wake up with its final score on a penalty kick by Ashton Cannon.