Smithfield-Selma got goals from Cristina Martinez and Megan Benjamin to fight off South Johnston, 2-1, in Two Rivers 3A Conference girls soccer action Tuesday night.
The win moves the Spartans to 4-6-1 overall and 2-1 in league play.
Taylor Overby scored a first-half goal for South Johnston (0-10, 0-4), which gave the Spartans more of a game than some may have expected.
“I think (our players) walked in here thinking we were going to crush them, but they gave us a lot of competition,” Smithfield-Selma coach Kate Hill said. “I think it was kind of an eye-opener.”
Smithfield-Selma dominated possession and peppered the Trojans’ net with shot attempts in the first half, but it took 38 minutes — and a bit of good fortune — for the visitors to dent the scoreboard.
Lyza Thomas got down low to save a shot from Vanessa Sanchez, but the ball bounced away from her and into the path of Martinez, who put it away for the game’s opening goal.
It took the Trojans less than two minutes to respond.
A South Johnston defender cleared the ball from her own end near the midfield stripe, blasting it upfield. The ball took a high bounce, over the head of Spartans keeper Bessy Rojas, and towards her now-empty net. Overby won the foot race and tapped it in to knot the score just before intermission.
The Spartans turned up the pressure in the second half, creating chances and threatening the South Johnston defense.
That perseverance paid off in the 50th minute when Benjamin got on the end of a through ball and slotted it home for the eventual game winning goal.
“I thought today they played the best that they have as a team,” South Johnston coach David Diviak said. “We were in it right until the end. We had our opportunities, and sometimes a tight game like this comes down to who takes advantage of their opportunities. We were a half-step, maybe one more shot (away) from equalizing. We didn’t get it done today, but we’ll be back on the field tomorrow.”
Both teams return to Two Rivers play Thursday as Smithfield-Selma travels to Corinth Holders and South Johnston visits Western Harnett.