With time running out, Wakefield’s Halee Enderlee made sure her corner kick was placed just right. Teammate Tori Hansen was going to rise up and try to knock in the game-sealing goal.
It was dramatic, but not the kind you’d expect in a first-round N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls soccer playoff game.
Hansen’s goal ended the game 12 seconds early as the 23-seed Wolverines got enough for the mercy rule and advanced 9-0 past host 10-seed Overhills (16-5).
“In the first half we were very, very direct,” said coach C.J. Komons. “We tried to widen it out a little bit and it really, really benefitted us in the second half.”
Wakefield (13-6-1) led just 2-0 at halftime, but not for a lack of chances.
The Wolverines peppered Overhills goalie Emily Eirite with shots. Feeling more composed in the second half, Wakefield put those chances away.
At game’s end, four shots had hit the woodwork, 18 were saved by Eirite, a handful were blocked by a defender and nine found the back of the net.
Eirite was a revelation for Overhills this year, said coach Nigel Facey.
“Last year she just turned up at practice one day,” Facey said. “She had not played soccer anymore than just playing with her friends.”
The Wolverines’ goals were scored by Nelson, Sam Francis, Tareya Stokes (two), Morgan Nanni (four) and Sierra Lowery.
Wakefield has a home game with Middle Creek in the next round as Wake County schools have dominated the opening games. Only three of the 16 schools left in the East are from outside of the county – Jack Britt, New Bern and Clayton.
Overhills capped off the best season in school history with optimism for the future. The goal was to make the playoffs, and the Jaguars did it.
“Our goal was to get there to see what it feels like to play some better teams and see what we need to learn to improve,” Facey said. “At the end of it, we’re not so concerned about scoreline. We wanted the girls to play to their ability. Their girls were better than us so we need to accept that and move on.”
The future looks good for the Harnett County school. Midfielder Haleigh Stackpole, like Eirite, is a sophomore. The CASL club player has been part of the U.S. Women’s National Team youth programs and lit up the Mid-South Conference this year.
Stackpole’s 63 goals are good for 12th-most in NCHSAA history (second-most by a sophomore) and are tops in Harnett County – 11 more than Triton’s Morgan Goff, a North Carolina recruit, scored in 2014.
“We have the core of our team returning. We’re expecting to improve even better than we did last year,” Facey said.