It took patience against a stubborn and stalwart defense from J.H. Rose, but Leesville Road’s girls soccer team took care of business.
The Pride scored three goals in an 11-minute span in the second half to put away the Rampants 4-0 Friday in a N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A second-round matchup.
Leesville Road (19-2-2), of the Cap-8 Conference, will face Green Hope, a 3-2 winner over E.A. Laney, in the third round.
“You’re happy to keep the season alive for the four seniors,” Leesville Road coach Paul Dinkenor said. “I thought everybody played well – it was nice to play 22 people. I thought we played solidly defensively.”
So did Rose in the first 50 minutes of the match, which is why the Pride was ahead only 1-0 despite dominating possession.
In the 52nd minute, Anne Marie Cawley booted in a rebound for Leesville Road after Rose goalkeeper Hannah Hollow turned away a long shot attempt from the right wing.
Three minutes later, Brooke Sroka finished off a superb through ball by Hannah Arostegui to make the score 3-0, and Bella Soltz put a pass from Melanie Hupp into the back of the net to finish the scoring in the 62nd minute.
“They got three really fast, and that’s why they’re No. 5 in the country. They’re freaking ridiculous,” Rose coach Tim Dameron said. “But our girls never quit tonight, and I could not be more proud.”
The Rampants started the match in a 4-5-1 formation, and bunkered in. The lone score of the first half came as Jordin Mosley and Arostegui had a nice give-and-go before serving the ball into the goal mouth, where Mack Gower took care of the rest.
In the 31st minute, Rose’s Shelby Jones almost finished off a 50-yard free kick by Sara Young, but Jones’ header bounced off the crossbar and over.
Young served three free kicks into the box from 50 yards away or more, showcasing the leg strength and skill that resulted in 12 goals and 30 assists this season.
“That girl has a bomb for a leg, so she’s actually playing forward, even though she’s a true defender,” Dameron said. “We had to play her on defense tonight because we knew what it was going to be like to have them coming at our throats.”
Dinkenor also noticed Jones’ first-half near-miss. On another long free kick early in the second half with the score still 1-0, Leesville Road marked Jones in front and behind near the top of the arc with a third defender nearby.
“That’s a dangerous weapon, no doubt about that,” he said. “The ball was served very, very well a couple of times. So we had somebody in front and somebody in back.”
Jones, who has committed to play at Manhattan College in the Bronx, finished the season with a team-high 40 goals and 15 assists. According to Dameron, Jones finished with a school-record 105 goals in just two seasons for the Rampants.
The Pride enjoyed a 23-3 advantage on shots, including 15-1 shots on goal. Leesville Road also had a 5-0 advantage on corner kicks. Hallow finished with 11 saves.
“Rose had some moments, no doubt about that,” Dinkenor said. “Their girls never stopped trying, and the effort was there. It was a very cleanly played game. But I felt in the end that our fitness was very good, our depth was outstanding and we played some really nice soccer.”
Dinkenor was also pleased with his team’s patience through the match’s first 50 minutes, and feels a good road test will help his team down the road.
“This is exactly what we needed,” he said. “At halftime, we said it was a great opportunity. To me, this is what high school playoff soccer is all about. They don’t know anything about us, and we don’t know anything about them. It should be a good hardening process for us.”
J.H. Rose, champion of the Eastern Carolina 3A/4A Conference, finishes its season with a 14-6-1 record.