Ample time remained on the clock when the North Johnston and Farmville Central girls soccer teams stopped play, lined up to exchange “good game” handshakes and then gathered in a midfield circle.
The nine-goal mercy rule ended the game with North Johnston winning 9-0 Tuesday night in a Eastern Plains 2A Conference match over an opponent playing its inaugural girls soccer season at Farmville Central.
“I want to say my hat is off to you all,” said North Johnston coach Jody Edwards, standing in the middle of the circle. “Ten years from now you won’t remember the score of this game. You’ll remember you started the program. You all have left a legacy for your school. You started the first girls soccer team.”
The postgame circle with comments from the opposing coach was an idea Farmville Central coach Matt Passwater suggested.
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“It gives us a platform to tell the girls what matters,” Passwater said. “I haven’t had a coach say they didn’t want to do it. They all appreciate the opportunity.”
North Johnston won its fifth game in the last six to move into position for a playoff berth. The overall record is only 8-8-2, but the Panthers are in a battle for second place with a 6-2-1 conference mark. Farmville Central fell to 0-14 and 0-7.
North Johnston has rebounded from a slow start that began with its first three losses by one goal each.
“We had a rough start to the season, but coach told us offense always takes longer to come around,” said North Johnston goalie Olivia Padgett. “We’ve been playing with a lot more confidence once we got a winning streak going.”
The one-sided game on senior day allowed Edwards to empty his bench, including Padgett playing her first game in the field.
Senior Jennifer Amado-Sanchez led the Panthers with a hat trick. Senior Natalie Sanchez also had multiple goals with two.
The other four goals were scored by senior Cassidy Goodwin, junior Barrett Davis, senior Morgan Mitchell and junior Olivia Hill.