Goals have not been coming in bunches for either the North Johnston or South Johnston girls soccer teams thus far this season so it figured, when the two teams met Tuesday night in a non-conference game, the team that jumped out in front first would have a decided advantage.
Thanks to a wonderfully worked cross from Jordan Hines, which teammate Sarah Rodriguez deposited into the back of the net with her first touch in the 47th minute, South Johnston (3-2-1) was the team that first lit up the scoreboard and the Trojans hung on for the 1-0 victory.
It was just the team’s fifth goal of the season but Rodriguez’s strike came as a direct result of a lot of practice time spent on learning how to finish off opportunities.
“We’ve been talking about working on our through passes, attacking the far post and getting behind the defender,” said South Johnston coach Kyle Stevens. “Right now we’re just still working on finishing-- we’re starting to see it, we’re starting to run to it and now we’ve just got to finish the plays when we get there.”
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South Johnston goalkeeper Lilly Allen was called upon to make just one save all game long to keep the clean sheet.
Three to watch
Rocio Vargas, South Johnston: The sophomore’s creative flair was unparalleled on the pitch but it was the midfielder’s vision and tireless work rate that helped her initiate several dangerous forays into the attacking third for the Trojans and win more than her lion’s share of 50-50 balls.
Jordan Hines, South Johnston: Hines was tough to contain for the Panthers as the junior provided the game’s best scoring chances even before her perfectly-placed cross led to the contest’s lone goal. Her ability to play with her back to the goal and turn on her defenders as well as run straight at them in 1-on-1 situations caused problems for North Johnston.
Caroline Baker, North Johnston: The Panthers’ sweeper was vital to keeping the Trojans to just the one goal. She anchored the defense and cleaned up any and all balls played up the middle of the field.
They said it
“We’ve got to learn to string our passes together better,” North Johnston coach Jody Edwards said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do offensively. Defense comes quicker, offense takes a little more time; we’ve got to develop more chances to score.”
With just under eight minutes left in the game and South Johnston holding onto the 1-0 lead, North Johnston’s Barrett Davis sprayed the ball down the right flank for Cassidy Dowling. Dowling beat her defender and looked as though she was in all alone on goal before Christina Shaw raced all the way from her right back position across the face of the goal to clear the ball away.
“She just came clear across the field and took (the ball),” Stevens said about Shaw’s potential goal-saving tackle. “We just put the speed back there and they just hawk stuff down.”
By the numbers
29: Minutes played before North Johnston (0-6-2) managed a shot on goal. Ana Lopez’s initial shot was blocked by the Trojans’ Dayanna Para and the rebound effort to the near post from Lopez was then swallowed up by South Johnston goalkeeper Lilly Allen.
6: Shots fired towards goal from the Trojans’ Jordan Hines. Three times North Johnston goalie Morgan Foster was forced to come up with saves as the South Johnston forward caused problems for the Panthers defense all game long.
3: Goals scored on the season for North Johnston.
1: Goals allowed in last four games for South Johnston.