The Corinth Holders girls soccer team is playing its best soccer of the season at the most opportune of times: the beginning of the 2A state playoffs.
The Pirates made short work of their first round opponent, Tarboro, Wednesday at home with a 9-0 drubbing that was called less than three minutes into the second half after Brooke Tyler’s second goal of the game fulfilled the requirements of the mercy rule.
The Vikings (12-4-1), who finished in a three-way tie in the Eastern Plains Conference, drew the No. 3 seed when conference officials decided the tiebreaker through a drawing process.
It didn’t take long for Tarboro to discover truly how unfortunate they were as Corinth Holders dominated from the opening whistle and were up 2-0 in less than nine minutes of play.
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Felice Hewitt and Allie O’Hara each scored two first-half goals as the Pirates pinned the Vikings down on their side of midfield for virtually the entire match.
Anna Capps and Tally Pavel got on the score sheet and sophomore Bella Iorio orchestrated the attack from her midfield position in addition to adding one goal and two assists.
What worked: It’s real easy for Pirates coach Alison Vetterl to pinpoint why her squad is peaking at the right time: the midfield.
Capps and Iorio are clicking on all cylinders right now and it shows.
“A lot of our possession is obviously going through the middle,” said Vetterl of the importance that Capps and Iorio play in helping move the ball forward and side-to-side. “I think right now they are playing terrific together. With those two at the top of their games, we’re playing great.”
Iorio credits the duo’s understanding of where each other is on the field as being key for the success in the middle of the pitch.
“I think it comes down to communication,” said Iorio. “We’re all talking and once we talk, we’re finding the through balls to the forwards and we’re switching the ball very nicely.
“We’re all getting open for each other and we’re all just ready to play.”
Unsung: The defensive back line for Corinth Holders (13-4) was assigned the task of slowing down Tarboro’s leading scorer Shayla Thorne.
Thorne entered the playoffs with 39 goals on the year but was held in check thanks to a great team defensive effort.
Sammi Berumen, Amanda Eckard, Christi Innocent and Amber Rogers prevented Thorne from getting a sniff at goal as the foursome won most long balls sent forward from the Tarboro defense with Thorne as the intended recipient.
“We worked a lot on 50-50 balls yesterday in practice,” said Vetterl. “We talked about being first to the ball, winning them in the air and then possessing the ball and I thought we did a great job tonight.”
Thorne’s lone dangerous trip into the penalty box was snuffed out when Pirate goalkeeper Rachel Witkin came off her line and blocked the junior striker’s attempt at preventing the shutout.
Under pressure: You can find out a lot about a team when the playoffs arrive. Often times doubt can creep in when an unfamiliar opponent shows up and teams sometimes play a little tight.
Not so for Corinth Holders as the Pirates are focusing on playing their game and playing to their strengths as opposed to worrying about the competition.
“The pressure is awesome,” added Iorio. “Everybody’s willing to step up.”
Going forward: “I’m just very pleased with our effort,” said Vetterl. “If we continue to have the same effort put forth, we’re only going to move forward from this point and be a tough battle for anybody.”