Garner Cleveland: Sports

West Johnston showcases balanced attack in win over Smithfield-Selma

West Johnston’s leading scorer was out because of sickness Wednesday night. But the Wildcats, a soccer team with numerous players who can put the ball in the net, generated plenty of offense against Smithfield-Selma.

Four players scored goals as the Wildcats won 4-0 to improve to 10-0-1, 7-0 in the Greater Neuse River 4A. Smithfield-Selma, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, dropped to 4-5, 2-4 in the league.

With junior Alaina Custer (13 goals) sidelined, it was up to other West Johnston players to fuel the offense.

“They share the ball really well,” West Johnston coach Kenneth Sweat said. “They know anybody that is going to be inside the 18 is going to be a threat. So they don’t have a problem sharing the ball.”

The Wildcats scored two goals in each half, but were much crisper on offense in the final 40 minutes.

“They did a better job in the second half of possessing the ball,” Sweat said. “I think we got better shots in the second half. Their keeper made some really quality saves.”

Smithfield-Selma keeper Brianna Chappell, a basketball star who took up soccer last season, made several outstanding saves. Her best came in the second half when the Wildcats made a centering pass and had a shot from right in front of the goal. Chappell jumped high to swat the shot away.

West Johnston, a team with just two seniors on its roster, is getting production from a lot of players. Six players have seven or more goals.

One of the Wildcats seniors, Rachel Thomas, scored the final West Johnston goal, just getting her foot on a corner kick from Emily Rentz and slipping the ball into the far corner of the goal in the 66th minute.

The Wildcats got first-half goals from junior Mallory Barton on an assist from fellow junior Rebecca Meshaw in the 21st minute. Sophomore Madison Covey scored in the 38th minute push the advantage to 2-0.

Barton’s goal was her 10th of the season. In the second half, junior Heather Bittle scored unassisted in the 61st minute for her eighth goal of the season. Thomas capped the scoring off five minutes later.

Sophomore Morgan Daughtry, a defender who constantly won possession of the ball and sent it back to midfield, and senior defender Allison Powers helped sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Stephenson record the shutout.