Holly Springs girls soccer coach Brian Miller spoke to his team about tackling adversity following the loss of leading scorer Kristen Bootes on Monday, the third Golden Hawk starter to go down just four games into the season.
On Wednesday, Miller’s squad overcame a different kind of adversity as Abby Sanders scored two goals in the final 25 minutes of the game to force a 2-2 draw against visiting Athens Drive in Southwest Wake Athletic Conference play.
“Adversity builds character and it also brings out talented players that you may never have seen because they’ve never had the opportunity to step up into a big role,” Miller said. “It’s good that it’s happened now, they’ve faced adversity and then (down) 2-0 at half they faced even more adversity. There’s no excuses. You’ve got to step up and do it and one of my senior captains did.”
It was Sanders who filled the offensive void left by the senior Bootes, who had accounted for six of the team’s nine goals through Monday.
Sanders, who scored two goals all of last year, spun one in off an assist by Rebekah Favero in the 55th minute to make it a 2-1 game and then tied things up with six minutes remaining when she one-timed home a deflection off the foot of teammate Kayla Slaughter.
It was a slight change in attack strategy after halftime that opened the door for Sanders and the Golden Hawks (2-2-1, 1-1-1).
“We went from four in the back to three in the back, put an extra midfielder in and then threw an extra striker up top just to try to pressure the ball higher up,” Miller said. “Once we made that change I think things started to roll for us.”
The change also came with repercussions however as Sanders went down with a leg cramp in the final minute of regulation and was unable to play in either overtime period.
“We moved her into a different position and she worked so hard and just didn’t hydrate enough,” Miller said.
The Jaguars (2-1-1, 1-1-1) struck first in the 21st minute when a sharp angled shot was first corralled but then dropped by Holly Springs goalkeeper Nikki DeBardalaben and Audrey Bowen was there to clean up the loose ball for Athens Drive.
The Jaguars then made it a two-goal lead with two minutes to play before halftime when Jordan Kuhner drove a direct kick into the upper ninety.
“I think we’re getting better every game,” Athens Drive coach Travis Seese said. “I think we need to play a little bit more of a possession game than we did in the second half. I don’t think we played as strong as we could in the second half. I thought we picked it up a little in overtime but Holly Springs is fighting for it as hard as we are.”