Sanderson took a critical conference win over Wakefield Thursday, closing a difficult three-day schedule against the Cap Eight's top soccer teams.
A rainout forced an earlier match against Leesville Road to be rescheduled, setting up Sanderson games against the first place Pride (7-1-2, 5-0-1 Cap Eight) Wednesday, second place Millbrook (6-3-1, 4-1-1) Tuesday, and Wakefield (5-3-1, 4-2-1), who sat just behind the Spartans in fourth place, entering Thursday's game.
After dropping the first two games of the week, Sanderson (6-3-2, 5-2) took a convincing 4-1 win over the Wolverines, rebounding from a 2-1 loss at Wakefield last month.
“It’s been a tough week and my goal was to go 2-1, but I thought the girls played well against Millbrook and Leesville, but we lost, so I was worried about this game because of that and we didn’t play our best tonight, but we played well,” Sanderson coach Todd Worley said. “Tonight we capitalized on goals that we hadn’t in the first two nights.”
Freshman striker Virginia Blake got things going in the 20th minute for the Spartans, followed by senior midfielder Amy Owens knocking in a header just before halftime in the 39th. Senior striker Mary Boylan kept things going, scoring her first of two goals with a rebound shot in the 44th minute before Wakefield’s Kat McDonald capitalized on a one-on-one opportunity, knocking in the Wolverines’ sole goal in the 50th minute.
The cancellation of the conference soccer tournament has made regular-season games even more important, with no opportunity for a late-season surge to push a team into the conference's No. 2 seed position for the state playoffs.
The conference's top three teams qualify for a spot in the NCHSAA tournament; all other entries are determined by regular season records.
“If we would have lost tonight, it would have put us in a big hole,” Worley said. “If you look at the records on wildcards, Heritage (5-3-3, 1-3-2) has played some teams and killed some teams and they’ve got a bunch of wins, and that kind of hurts us. I told the girls this was going to be a hard year to make the playoffs, especially with as good as Wakefield is playing. ... We’re going to have to play it out, and we’re going to have to beat Leesville and we’re going to have to beat Millbrook. If we do that, I think we’ll make the playoffs. If we don’t do that, then we’re not. That’s just kind of how it is.”
Sanderson was scheduled to travel to Heritage Monday and host Leesville Road Wednesday. The Spartans are scheduled to close the regular season April 30 at Millbrook.