With a potential playoff spot on the line, Knightdale girls soccer coach Madison Shope knew the importance of Wednesday’s regular season finale against East Wake.
The Knights played what Shope considered to be the team’s best game of the season, producing a 6-1 triumph over the Warriors on Senior Night. The win gave Knightdale (7-10, 7-7 Greater Neuse River 4A) a faint hope of making the state playoffs as a wildcard.
“They played well together, communicated and played as a team,” Shope said. “There were ups and downs this season and it was nice to finish on a high note.”
Knightdale is hoping to keep a postseason streak alive, having made the playoffs for the past seven years.
“It’d be nice to uphold that tradition,” said Shope, who took over the team this season after serving as assistant coach the previous two.
East Wake (5-12, 5-9) saw its season end Wednesday, but with considerable improvement over last year’s two-win production.
“We’re losing three seniors (Kelly Daughtridge, Sergia Bronfield and Rosario Juarez) so most our players will be returning and that’s a good thing for us heading into next season and practicing for next season,” said first-year Warriors coach Bree Orth.
Seniors Stephanie Lino-Perez, the Knights’ goalie, and Morgan Wiggs, a midfielder, did their part in the runaway win over East Wake. Lino-Perez finished with three saves and Wiggs made the most of a feed by junior Tori Leech in the 69th minute, giving Knightdale the 5-1 lead.
It was a sophomore, however, that led the Knights on offense with a pair of goals. Leah McCray opened scoring on an assist by sophomore Elizabeth James in the 8th minute, settling the ball, turning and powering it into the back of the net. McCray went on to score the game’s final goal with five minutes to play, cleaning up remnants of a scuffle in front of the East Wake goal.
The Knights led 3-0 at the half with look-alike goals from Taylor Townsend in the 26th minute on a deep assist by fellow sophomore Morgan Edmonds and from junior Camille Glover in the 31st, fed by sophomore Taylor Ward.
Townsend sent a low ball in from the right end and Leech muscled home the finish to go up 4-0 in the 55th minute.
East Wake’s lone goal came in the 62nd, when junior Ashton Cannon took an assist from sophomore Alexa Bird, made a gutsy run up the right side and scored to the far corner of the goal.