Middle Creek’s run to the fourth round of the playoffs last season might have caught some observers by surprise, but this year’s Mustangs have made clear their expectation to make an even bigger statement this fall.
The Mustangs resoundingly defeated Millbrook 4-0 on Wednesday in a game that was called after 65 minutes as a severe thunderstorm encroached toward the Middle Creek campus. That was on the heels of a 7-0 defeat of Northern Durham two nights earlier.
“I’m very happy, very impressed with the team. I’ve taken over with a great group of kids,” said first-year Middle Creek coach Guy Coleman. “They know what they’re doing. They’re fast, in shape. We’re just excited for the season.”
Despite not playing a full 80 minutes against Millbrook, Middle Creek played a complete game.
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Forward Chris Wallace was a menace to the Wildcats all night. His pace and physicality spearheaded the Mustangs attack that took 12 shots, including seven on goal.
Wallace’s long throw-in set up Daniel Lutz’s fifth-minute header, then he opened his own account with a tap-in finish in the 13th minute. Wallace could have tripled his tally, but an attempt with the Millbrook goalkeeper caught out was off the mark in the 21st minute, and his free kick in the 60th minute clanged off the crossbar.
The Mustangs looked to have a step on the Wildcats all over the field, and they utilized that fitness advantage to press Millbrook relentlessly. In the 48th minute, that high pressure paid off.
Midfielder Colin Frie picked a Millbrook’s defender’s pocket deep in the Wildcats’ end, took a few touches to set up his right foot and finished ruthlessly off the far post for a 3-0 lead.
Moments later, Frie saw his corner kick deflect off a Millbrook defender into the Wildcats’ goal for a 4-0 cushion.
Middle Creek central defenders Brad Van Hulst and Ben Nativi kept the Mustangs compact and organized in the back to prevent the Wildcats from ever posing a serious threat on goal.
Mustangs goalkeeper Cameron Cornwell had to make just two saves to keep his clean sheet before ceding duties to backup Anthony Pereira in the 55th minute.
“We’re looking to make a run further than we did last year,” said Wallace. “So we’re really looking forward to the season.”