Midtown: Sports

Smithfield-Selma rallies, ties Southeast Raleigh again

Southeast Raleigh girls’ soccer coach Sarah Kuszaj knows not to get too comfortable with a lead when playing Smithfield-Selma.

In case Kuszaj and the Bulldogs forgot, the Spartans made sure to remind them. Smithfield-Selma erased a two-goal deficit to force a 2-2 draw with Southeast Raleigh in the season finale for both teams Wednesday.

On April 9, the Bulldogs jumped to a 2-0 lead on their Greater Neuse 4A foes only to have the Spartans rally for a 3-2 come-from-behind victory.

“We knew that feeling,” Kuszaj said. “And with it being our senior night, we wanted to get that win.”

Heather Rabil scored with less than a minute to play in the first half to cut into the Southeast Raleigh lead. Miriam Vazquez then knotted the score in the 53rd minute and not even two overtimes could decide a winner.

Southeast Raleigh was fortunate to escape the first half with a 2-1 lead as Smithfield-Selma controlled the ball in Bulldog territory for the majority of the first half and kept backup goalkeeper Darriyon Rainey busy. But Brianna Morange managed to twice get a push upfield for the Bulldogs and each ended in a tally.

“We need to be a little more patient,” Smithfield-Selma coach Renato Freitas said. “It’s a game of chess. You have to play smart.”

Morange, a senior who scored all except two of Southeast’s goals this season, dribbled through the defense in the eighth minute to get the Bulldogs on the scoreboard and then in the 27th minute, collided with Spartan goalkeeper Brianna Chappell as they both went for the ball, but quickly gathered herself and tapped in the loose ball.

Chappell was shaken but not stirred on the play, missing the rest of the first half but returning to start the second half.

The Spartans capitalized on Chappell’s absence when Logan Parrish sent a corner kick to Rabil’s foot in the final minute of the half, beating freshman backup goalie Mari Cox. Vazquez tied the game thirteen minutes after intermission with a one-touch from deep in the box against Chappell.

“It was nice to see everyone have a good progression,” Freitas said. “It makes me happy. It was a good season overall.”

The game marked the end of the careers for seniors Emily Wood of Smithfield-Selma as well as Morange, Grace Jou, Tracee Tatum, Bria Williams and Nortee Louder of the Bulldogs.

“It was a tough season overall. We had a couple of key injuries. They’ve really stepped up and given the effort that they can,” Kuszaj said.