This week’s boys soccer notes:
Though the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s playoff model may encourage some teams to play lighter nonconference competition, Garner (9-8, 8-2 Greater Neuse 4A) is the case against it. Early-season lumps are paying off for the Trojans, winners of 9 of their last 11.
Monday’s game at Knightdale will decide first place.
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“I believe that the better the competition you play, the better you get,” Garner coach Ben Bondurant said. “When you play the best, you see what you need to work on, and you learn how to overcome adversity. We also learned how strong these kids are. How we have come back and played is pretty impressive.”
The Catamounts (12-5, 10-3 Southwest Wake 4A) may not be in the running for the SWAC title, but can still make lots of noise in the playoffs later this month. Much of this year’s improvement is due to having a full offseason for coach Chad Sichak and the team to work together.
Sichak was formally hired just days before last year’s tryouts, and the team had to coordinate its own offseason workouts. He credits senior leadership for taking initiative.
“They did really well getting organized this summer and trying to get rid of some of the issues that have plagued the team in previous years,” Sichak said.
They’ll meet again in less than two weeks, likely with the Two Rivers 3A regular-season soccer title at stake, but for now Corinth Holders has the upper hand on Cleveland courtesy of a 1-0 road victory Thursday night.
Casey Coughlin scored the match’s lone goal, that coming with 4 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the first half, and Corinth’s defense took care of the rest as the Pirates (11-3-2, 5-0) wrestled first place from Cleveland.
Cleveland (7-5-3, 4-1) visits Corinth on Oct. 26. Cleveland coach Nicholas Gruhn was quick to point out Corinth won the first meeting between the two teams last season before the Rams pulled out a 2-0 victory in the regular-season finale to secure the league title.
“I’m not unhappy with anything, effort-wise, our team put out there,” Gruhn said. “Mentally, we were prepared for the game. They put one in, and we didn’t. I’m upset with the result, but I’m not upset with the way we played. It’s important now to bounce back.”
A 2-1 win over Broughton on Wednesday served two big purposes for the Wildcats (15-2-1, 8-1-1 Cap-8 4A). They got revenge for a 4-2 loss to Broughton on Sept. 19, the last time Millbrook lost, and gave themselves some breathing room at the top of the Cap-8 standings.
Ian Pearlswig put the Wildcats ahead off a long, bouncing free kick, and several minutes later, Zack Thomas scored an insurance goal for Millbrook.
“Zack’s putback – that might’ve looked easy, but that’s something most people would’ve put into the parking lot,” coach Matt Edwards said.
The Caps (11-6-1, 5-5 Cap-8) are falling back in the standings. Coach Craig Brannan said Millbrook’s high line caught the Caps offside multiple times, frustrating their forwards.
“If you execute too quickly, a lot of balls were being played out of bounds that were good ideas,” Brannan said. “If they slow down and are just happy with possession, I think we get more space. When we’re doing our best, we’re holding the ball, letting things develop with combination play.”
The Wolverines snapped a winless streak that went back nearly a year, with Wakefield blitzing rival Wake Forest 6-1 on Wednesday night to earn their its victory of the season.
The Wolverines (1-10-2, 1-7-1 Cap-8 4A) last won Oct. 21, 2015, but a five-goal second half ensured they wouldn’t go the entire 2016 season without a win. Coach Michael Cantrell was hired the day before tryouts, and he’s still getting to know his players. A couple tough early-season losses didn’t help, but his team has stuck together.
“I can’t believe it, to be honest, that they have the attitude they have,” Cantrell said.
Austrian foreign-exchange student Paul Praschinger and seniors Marcus Shenker-Tauris, Brendon Fusik and Oliver Norton scored Tuesday, as did junior Connor Hoke and freshman John Alexander
Coach Mike Atkinson said defense has been an issue for the Cougars (5-12, 1-9), as they’ve given up 73 goals this season – and 38 in their current seven-game losing streak.
“They’re still waiting for Superman to come through the door and save the day,” Atkinson said. “They’re realizing he’s not coming.”
Heritage learned from its mistakes earlier in the week by not allowing a first-minute goal by Enloe to set the tone Wednesday. Heritage (13-4, 6-4 Cap-8 4A), which lost in that fashion to Sanderson a day earlier, came back to beat Enloe 2-1.
Coach Scott Sloan said that the defense that suffocated Enloe in latter part of the half was the key to the comeback.
“The willingness to commit to actually truly defending and not giving Enloe any space at all, that was our spark,” Sloan said.
Enloe (6-7-2, 1-6-2 Cap-8 4A) got an early goal from Harry Cooper, but coach Drew Womble said the rest of the half didn’t go as well.
“I don’t think we played all that well in the first half,” Womble said. “We couldn’t keep possession, they are a feisty group. They defend the edge well, and that kind of caught us up a little bit.”
The Falcons (18-1, 11-1 Southwest Wake 4A) stayed calm on the ball despite a rivalry atmosphere against Panther Creek on Wednesday, which led to good execution in a 4-0 win. Green Hope has made a penchant of not just scoring goals, but highlight-reel-worthy ones.
“We practice a lot of game situations. I know a lot of coaches love these magic drills where it’s fun and everything but it doesn’t translate over to a game,” coach David Corsbie said. “These kids play so much, so it’s not like any of these situations are their first time, and that helps with composure.”
Leesville Road has two senior defenders to thank for a 2-1 overtime victory Wednesday night against Sanderson. Wesley Dunn scored with just more than one minute left in regulation, and Mason MacLauchlin scored with two minutes left in overtime.
Leesville Road (12-6-1, 8-2) is now a game behind Millbrook for first.
Sanderson (11-4-1) is still in the thick of it for the Cap-8 title, just two back of Millbrook. Matthew Melendez had the lone goal for the Spartans in the loss to Leesville.
This has been a rebuilding year for the Comets (8-11, 5-6 Greater Neuse 4A), last year’s conference champs. Coach John Asmussen has four seniors including captain Caleb Rogers.
“Caleb has come back from injuries and has been playing his heart out,’’ Asmussen said. “I thought he controlled the field and did everything he could for us.’’
Garrett Johnson scored on a pair of penalty kicks, the second of those with 10 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the second half to break a 2-all tie as East Wake (8-6-2, 4-2-2 Greater Neuse 4A) enhanced its N.C. High School Athletic Association playoff hopes with a 3-2 win over Rolesville on Wednesday.
Rolesville (2-15-2, 2-7-1 Greater Neuse 4A) has had a bright spot this season in goalkeeper Jordan Payne.
“It’s been very frustrating,” said Rolesville coach James Overman. “Early in the season, we played a very tough out-of-conference schedule, but once we got into conference play there has only been one game with a large margin. Otherwise, we have been in every game. We just haven’t been able to take that one step to win those games.”
The Big 8 3A Conference all but belongs to the Tigers (15-1, 8-0) after a 5-1 win Wednesday. Justin Mecham had a goal and an assist as Chapel Hill won its 14th straight game.
“We have a lot of depth this year; we’re lucky this year with good senior leadership,” said Tigers coach Jason Curtis. “Justin’s a junior; sometimes we play him in the back, sometimes in the midfield, we can play him anywhere, but in the box, he’s a terror.”
Cedar Ridge (8-3-4, 6-2-2 Big 8 3A) had a four-game win streak snapped. Trent Gill, also one of the area’s best football kickers, had the lone goal. The Red Wolve would have to win out and get some help to earn a share of the title.