Panther Creek’s dominant girls soccer team bumped its season scoring advantage to 21-1 with a 2-0 win Wednesday over Holly Springs at home while also protecting its No. 1 ranking among area schools and unbeaten record.
But the Catamounts have been forced to work harder for their victories than the 21-1 scoring advantage suggests. For the second match this week, Panther Creek (7-0, 6-0) was deadlocked 0-0 at halftime until junior Hollie Cartwright and senior Emma Socha scored second-half goals to clinch the victory.
“Teams are playing us four in back and up to five and six to make sure we can’t get through,” Socha said. “It’s been tough to attack, but we’ve managed to find a way to still come out on top.”
Socha scored into open net from the left side after she tapped in the rebound of senior Justine James’ shot from the right side.
Style adjustment: Holly Springs (3-4-1, 2-3-1), which started the week ranked No. 10 in The News & Observer area rankings, has been forced to adjust its style of play since the loss of leading scorer Kirsten Bootes, a UNC-Wilmington-bound player that has been lost for the season with torn knee ligaments suffered March 16 in a loss to Fuquay-Varina.
“She’s a big loss, and we can’t replace where with one player,” Holly Springs coach Brian Miller said. “We need to replace her 20-some goals between four or five players. But we’ll keep working. We’re playing strong defensively. We’re going to be in every match. We hung with them the first half, but they’re a very good team.”
Holly Springs freshman goalie Mary Drue Atkins made several nice saves, but she also benefited from the play of her three backs, senior Brooke Reiner, sophomore Kelli Hays and sophomore Alyssa Poth.
On one early first-half play, Atkins came out of goal to block a shot only to helplessly watch the deflection bound over her head toward the goal. But before a Panther Creek player could tap in a goal, Reiner made like a goalie to block the ball from scoring and clear it up field.
Turning point: After a scoreless first half, Panther Creek capitalized early in the first two minutes of the second half with Cartwright’s goal. When a Holly Springs defender deflected a shot, Cartwright was on top of Atkins and re-directed a rocket-shot on goal. Atkins got a hand on the ball as she fell to her knees, but Cartwright’s shot gathered so much velocity it bounded over her and rolled into the net.
“I was really excited to score,” Cartwright said. “We had been struggling to score in the first half.”
Cartwright wasn’t around for the end of the match, though. She left the game with thumb injury with 12 minutes to play.