Holly Springs’ match with the Panther Creek girls soccer team on Monday night wasn’t exactly a must-win, but the Golden Hawks played that way.
After being outplayed in the first half, Holly Springs got an early second-half goal from Sierra Raynor and played some inspired soccer to knock off the Catamounts 2-1.
“We had a lot of passion this game,” said Raynor, a senior co-captain who missed the previous three games with injury. “We knew we wanted to win, and the crowd helped a lot. We played our game. The first half was decent, but we really stepped it up the second half and playing Hawks soccer. … Second half, we just came out and destroyed.”
Holly Springs (8-7-3, 4-6-3) was 1-2-1 in its last four games – and fell behind Panther Creek 1-0 in the eighth minute. But Shadae Nicholas tied the game in the 35th minute, and the Golden Hawks pulled away.
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“We just wanted to play better,” Holly Springs coach Brian Miller said. “Is it a big for our playoffs? Yeah, but we just wanted to play better, take the momentum we got last week and carry it into this week.”
The Catamounts (9-7-3, 7-5-2) are 0-2-1 in their last three games, and coach David Grant challenged his team after this loss.
“Just not playing well,” Grant said. “Second half, we can’t keep possession. No matter who you’re playing, if you’re not keeping possession of the ball and you can’t mentally push through things, you’re going to struggle.
“Wasn’t a real tough environment tonight, but we made it one. The first half and second half were two completely different halves. Obviously, you want the second one to be the better of the two, finishing strong, and we didn’t. That’s why we lost.”
Hawks keeper M.D. Atkins had a lot to do with it, making several diving saves throughout the game.
“There were a lot of missed opportunities,” PC midfielder Brittany Matsinger said. “We should’ve finished what we had. We could’ve defended better. We played well as a team, but we could’ve stepped up a little.”
Raynor’s goal in the 43rd minute was the game-winner, but the Hawks survived two good Catamount scoring chances soon after. Matsinger made a nice move in the box, but her shot glanced off the right post. Paige D’Agostin, just up from the junior-varsity team, then launched a shot that Atkins had to make a sprawling save on, and the ball rolled wide of the left post.
Three to know
M.D. Atkins, Holly Springs: Atkins was spectacular after allowing PC’s first goal.
“She’s coming on at the end of the year, making some big saves,” Miller said. “Out of the eight wins that we have, she probably has six or seven shutouts. She’s playing phenomenal right now. Tough to beat. You’ve got to have a perfect shot like they did in the first half to beat her right now.”
Sierra Raynor, Holly Springs: Not only did the senior co-captain score the go-ahead goal, but she also played defense the final 10 minutes.
Brittany Matsinger, Panther Creek: The senior midfielder had a terrific game, creating several scoring chances for her team.