Millbrook outlasted Sanderson 2-1 in overtime Wednesday to break a two-game skid and cap an up-and-down regular season with a win.
The Wildcats (9-12-1, 6-8-0 Cap Eight) pulled ahead three minutes into the first or two ten-minute overtime period with a goal from senior forward Kyle LaCivita, and held on to top the defending N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A East regional champions in the Cap Eight finale.
“Part of the rivalry with Sanderson just gets everybody a little bit more sharp and a little more aware of things, so having games against Sanderson is such a special thing,” Millbrook coach Matt Edwards said. “This is why I coach high school soccer. This is why high school soccer is such an exciting thing for anybody that gets to be a part of it, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. These players will never forget it.”
Millbrook struck first, scoring quickly with a goal from junior forward Zac Roberts in the seventh minute. Only after halftime did they surrender a goal to Spartans junior midfielder Michael Bell in the 42nd minute to tie the game up at 1-1.
Sanderson (12-8-3, 7-6-1) couldn’t muster another goal, snapping what had been a five-game win streak after a rocky stretch due to some major personnel losses throughout the season.
The Spartans lost two strikers as the season has progressed -- junior Grantham Williams and junior Jason Moreno -- putting a strain on their offensive production.
“Until tonight, we scored more than two goals in every game,” Worley said. “(Tonight’s goal) was more of a manufactured goal and I would call [the offense] sometimes anemic.
“So now we have had to figure out other ways to score. You know, typically we can combo through the middle; that’s how we do scoring. When you lose your three strikers, I credit these guys for really just working hard.”
During a seven-game stretch in mid-September, the Spartans tallied five losses, one tie, and one win by forfeit. It was during that time that the team held a players-only meeting during a practice to figure things out.
“We had a day where coach just happened to not be able to come to practice and we just had a players’ practice where we all came together and for a whole practice session we just stayed in a room,” Sanderson senior Alex Struble said. “We all talked it out. We all figured out what we need to do, and we did it. We just executed it the rest of the season.”
The loss put Sanderson in fourth place just behind Leesville Road’s 7-5-2 Cap Eight finish. Leesville’s conference finale against Wakefield also went to overtime Wednesday, but ended in a 1-1 tie.
Broughton took the conference title, losing to and tying Sanderson, but defeating all other Cap Eight opponents this year. Heritage finished second in the conference at 9-4-1.
The NCHSAA playoffs are scheduled to begin Tuesday and Wednesday. Teams have the choice to schedule for either day.