The freshman class stepped up big in Clayton’s hard-fought win over visiting Cleveland on Wednesday night.
Janelle Reid scored two goals, while classmate Holland Mills added a goal and two assists as the Comets broke away from the Rams for a 4-1 girls’ soccer victory.
Clayton, which has yet to allow a goal in going 4-0 in Greater Neuse River 4A play, improved to 6-2 with the victory. Two Rivers 3A member Cleveland, which has played four 4A schools in the runup to conference play, fell to 0-5.
“We weren’t focused at the first of the game,” said Clayton coach William Williams, whose team led 2-1 at halftime. “We were coming off a huge win at Harnett Central (4-0) and we hadn’t had a score like that in a while.
“I told our players Cleveland had a really fast forward (McNierney) who would go right by them if they pushed up on her, and that’s what happened on the first goal. It took about five minutes to get them to listen to me.”
The Rams were the dominant team for nearly the first 30 minutes until the Comets turned the tide with a couple of quick goals.
“The teams we’re playing have been awesome,” Cleveland coach Marissa DiMarco said. “We have no one the size and speed to keep up with (Reed). She has the foot skills.
“I’ve seen a lot of good things out of our team and all of this is preparing us for conference. We’re getting in better shape and we’re finding feet. We’re young and they’re scared to talk on the field.”
Sophomore Cassidy McNierney opened the scoring, receiving a lead pass from Anna Ford and out-sprinting the defense for a 1-0 Cleveland lead less than six minutes in.
But the Comets evened the score in the 29th when Mills scored in the box. And less than two minutes later Lauren Daniels made it 2-1 off of Mills’ low, pinpoint corner kick from the right side for her fifth goal of the year.
“Our team works really well together and we made good passes,” said Mills, who has four goals and seven assists on the season. “We’re all good friends off the field and trust each other and work together well. I didn’t know a lot of the older girls before I came to the team, but they’re very accepting to the freshmen.”
Reid put on a show in the second half. She scored once in the 56th minute on some fancy footwork in the box with Mills on the helper. And in the 72nd minute she finished the evening’s scoring on a long run down the left sideline with Claudia Woznichak on the assist.
“I don’t know what happened on the first one,” said Reid, who has five goals on the season. “I just dribbled and turned around and saw the goal. The second goal was more typical for me.
“I knew Holland before because we had played against each other in middle school (Reid at Clayton and Mills at Riverwood.) I think we’re coming together better in each game as we learn how our teammates play.”
Despite the loss the goal made the day even more special for Cleveland sophomore McNierney, who had been inolved in three school records in a track meet at Corinth Holders earlier in the afternoon.
“Anna gave me a perfect pass,” said McNierney, who ran a leg on the 4x200 and broke individual records in the triple jump and high jump. “I feel like every game and every practice we’re getting better. When conference comes we’ll be ready and we can win.”
Biggs and Woznichak each have five assists on the season.