Senior keeper Katelyn Lowery anchored Cleveland’s rock-solid defense Wednesday night, recording her first shutout of the season as the Rams’ girls soccer team stopped Smithfield-Selma 2-0.
Cleveland, the defending champion in the Two River 3A Conference, bounced back from a 1-0 loss to Erwin Triton the night before to stayed tied for second in the league with Triton at 4-2 behind unbeaten Corinth Holders. Smithfield-Selma dropped to 6-6-1 and 3-3 in the league.
The defense was there, as it has been most of the season for Cleveland, with Lowery and crew putting up a zero on the board.
“She has had a great year,” Cleveland coach Marissa DiMarco said of Lowery. “She has kept us in every game. She is an awesome leader on and off the field. I hate this is her first shutout because she deserves to have many more.”
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It was not a one-player effort.
The Rams (4-7 after an 0-5 start) were physical and efficient, breaking up most of Smithfield-Selma’s offensive pushes toward the Cleveland goal.
“Defensively, we have been very solid this year with Briele Cochran in the back,” DiMarco said. “Sarah Ginn, Brittany Preston and Estefanie Pedrozo … they have been very consistent. That is definitely our strong suit. We just need to get some goals.”
Cleveland, which has won four of five matches, scored in each half.
Rachel Williams boomed in a goal from about 30 yards out in the 10th minute that went over the head of the SSS keeper and into the back of the net. In the second half, Anna Ford scored in the 63rd minute on an assist from Madison Reid.
Ford raced down the left side and took the pass from Reid and angled the ball past the SSS keeper into the right corner of the net.
“Our forwards were making runs,” DiMarco said. “Kendall Lamm made every right run on the outside. We got our midfields in, we crossed the ball and we took shots. Yesterday against Triton, with seven minutes left in the first half, we had one shot on goal. You can’t score if you don’t shoot. Tonight we had 15 or 16 shots.”
For Smithfield-Selma, which had scored nine goals in a 9-1 win over Western Harnett on Tuesday, it was a frustrating evening.
“We had some good shots at goal but we shot them right at the keeper,” Spartans coach Stacy Holland said. “We didn’t pass well tonight. We got a little frustrated with how physical they were being. It was a very physical game and we didn’t adjust well to that.
“We just didn’t have it tonight, just couldn’t get it together.”
Smithfield-Selma came with inches of a goal in the second half when Leslie Paramo hit the crossbar on a shot from in front of the goal, the ball bouncing back into play and then being cleared by Cleveland’s defenders.
Cleveland coach DiMarco said Smithfield-Selma is much improved this season.
“Smithfield is a different team this year,” DiMarco said. “They are so much better.”
The night, however, belonged to senior Lowery and the Cleveland defense.