It was a foregone conclusion that Clayton was going to clinch the championship in Greater Neuse River 4A girls’ soccer pretty soon.
And the Comets were able to do it on Wednesday night against county rival West Johnston, but this time the Wildcats didn’t go down without a fight.
Clayton trailed 1-0 early in the game but answered with the next two goals, holding off the determined visitors 4-2 for the Comets’ 13th straight win.
Clayton, which had won the teams’ earlier meeting 11-3 on the road, improved to 18-1 on the season and 11-0 in conference action.
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West (10-4-2, 7-3-1) needs a good run in its final three games to clinch a spot in the state 4A playoffs.
The Wildcats got a goal from junior scoring machine Robin Pollard on an Ashley Tucker assist eight minutes in, but Everett Biggs tied it off a Lauren Daniels assist in the 29th minute and then two minutes later Daniels put Clayton ahead on a Janelle Reid helper.
Daniels made it 3-1 on a penalty kick in the 58th minute. Pollard scored again just a few seconds later, but Reid hit the clincher on an Emery Biggs assist in the 64th.
“This team sometimes starts slow and sometimes we jump all over teams,” Clayton coach Brian Stevens said. “Robin is a very talented player and woke us up. We had started off without marking her, and after that we marked her. Then our forwards woke up and found some open space. We got the job done in the end.”
Daniels’ goal in the first half to make it 2-1.
They said it
“We did a lot of things better in this game,” West coach Luke Waddell said. “We put an extra body in the midfield because Clayton is really dangerous there. Preventing balls through helped us a lot. And we’re healthy and in good form now. This was absolutely a good result. From 11-3 to 4-2? I guess if we play them a third time and improve that much we’d win.”
Three to watch
Lauren Daniels, Clayton: The senior striker/midfielder had two goals and an assist.
“When they scored first we knew we needed to step it up,” Daniels said. “They have some very talented players and are capable of beating us. We had to convince ourselves we were the better team and play to it.”
Janelle Reid, Clayton: The sophomore striker/midfielder had a goal and an assist.
“We started out kind of slow,” Reid said. “That shouldn’t have happened because we needed to win it to secure conference. But the goal woke us all up. We know Robin’s an amazing player. But once we started playing as a team we got the result we wanted.”
Robin Pollard, West Johnston: The junior forward scored a pair of goals.
“We came in knowing it would be a big rematch,” Pollard said. “We knew we’d have to be strong to play a good game against them. I think we had a good mentality today. We thought we’d have to surprise them early and we did. I think we got a lot of positive momentum out of playing so well tonight.”
By the numbers
10: West shots on goal.
13: Clayton shots on goal.
18: Season goals by Reid.
20: Season goals by Daniels.
48: Season goals by Pollard.
West hosts Garner on Monday and travels to Knightdale on Wednesday in its regular-season finale.
Clayton is at Rolesville on Monday and hosts Southeast Raleigh on Wednesday in its regular-season finale.