Despite a whopping 29-2 edge in shots, the North Raleigh Christian Academy girls soccer team was never fully in control of its Triangle Independent Athletic Schools Conference match at Ravenscroft until the unlikeliest of goals.
In the 54th minute, Knights sophomore Lilli Pitre fed a ball to forward Lauren McAtee, who dribbled around a defender before finding freshman Natalie Lloyd on the other side of the box.
Lloyd was able to get just enough of the ball to send it flying high into the air, where an unlucky Ravens’ keeper Molly Hunter had come off her line to try and stop a hard shot.
The ball fluttered in the air momentarily before finding a path into the back of the net for the match’s final score. NRCA won 2-0 Thursday.
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Lloyd smiled at the description of her shot attack as a whiff.
“I put it in,” she said. “When it goes up on the scoreboard it doesn’t say bad shot or bad goal. It hit my shin, but it was enough for it to go in.”
That goal added to a 1-0 advantage that came in the 30th minute when a goal kick by Ravenscroft went directly to the head of North Raleigh midfielder Rachel Dickenson. The sophomore headed it directly to the streaking McAtee, who shot low to beat Hunter.
Those two scores ruined what was an excellent defensive game by the Ravens, who dropped to 4-3 overall and 0-2 in the TISAC.
Hunter was stellar, coming up with saves via her hands, feet and knees, as well as tackling away breakaway chances three other times.
“Their keeper, obviously, was a big difference for them,” Knights head coach Ed Pinson said of Hunter.
Her highlight-reel save of many nifty stops came in the game’s 38th minute. Dickinson started a counter from the midfield, passing to Lloyd. Lloyd passed it right back to Dickinson, who sent a blast to the top shelf, but Hunter reached up and pushed it over the top bar.
“She’s awesome, oh yeah,” Ravenscroft senior defender Sidney Vinson said of Hunter. “I always feel confident with her back there. I know what she can do.”
Pinson was extremely pleased with his team’s win, that upped its record to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in the league. However, he wants better finishing.
“We should have done a much better job finishing,” he said. “I’d like to see us explore a few more early options. Maybe the outcome changes a bit.”
By the numbers
15: Number of saves by Ravenscroft keeper Molly Hunter.
2: Total saves by North Raleigh Christian goalie Michelle Day.
8-0: Advantage in corner kicks for the Knights.
21-1: Total score in last five meetings between teams, all won by North Raleigh Christian.
0: Number of goals for Knights’ senior forward Hayley Gibson on 10 shots, the first time in eight games she has been held scoreless.