Caleb Norkus is used to winning soccer games at Gregson Stadium – just not while wearing something other than “Sanderson” on his shirt.
But Tuesday night, the Sanderson Hall of Famer led another team to victory. In his first season coaching at Green Hope, Norkus’ Falcons rallied to a 2-1 victory over his former school Tuesday night in a nonconference matchup of two of the best programs in the Triangle.
“It was very, very special to me coming back on this field,” said Norkus, who was the 1996 North Carolina player of the year in leading Sanderson to the state title. “A lot of memories came flooding back – I hadn’t been here since I’d been away a few years.”
Sanderson acknowledged Norkus in a warm tribute before the game, to which Norkus tapped his heart in thanks.
“I’ve been able to watch his career for a long time,” Spartans coach Todd Worley said. “He coached my son in (CASL), so I’ve watched him grow into one of the finer men you will ever meet. He’s a perfect coach for Green Hope. It was an honor to have him in, and I love him to death.”
After a physical game, Green Hope’s Isaac Oyediran was fouled in the box in the 79th minute. Camden Holbrook then beat Spartan keeper Bryson Condrey for the game-winning goal.
They said it
“I know a lot of coaches plan easy teams because they want to make the playoffs,” Worley said. “We’re going to play these games because it’s the only way we’re going to get better. We may not make the playoffs someday for it, but we’re going to try to play the best every time. For us, this was a really good thing.”
Three who mattered
Parker Washburn, Green Hope: The junior flashed plenty of speed and skill against a solid Spartan defense, getting the game-tying goal in the second half after a flurry of Falcons’ scoring chances. “No. 4 for them was fantastic,” Worley said of Washburn. “He was the game-changer.”
Andrew Noll, Sanderson: Noll is the key player for the Spartan defense, and he helped keep the Falcons in check for most of the game.
Connor Brookshire, Green Hope: Brookshire was terrific at getting his shot off against a tight defense.
The Spartans (2-1-1), who have had to replace 11 starters for this season, will need to create better scoring chances in order to compete in the Cap-8.
“We’re still working on our offense,” Worley said. “Our defense played pretty well. It’s just a matter of getting everyone in the right spots, and I think we’re making strides. We’ve got a chance to be good.”
For the Falcons (2-1-2), putting together a complete game will be crucial to their success in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference.
“(The key has been) our hard work in the second half because we really haven’t been playing well until we’re down,” Washburn said. “Then we figure it out, which is nice, but hopefully later in the season we’ll figure it out earlier in the game.”