Smithfield: Sports

North Johnston scratches and claws for girls soccer tie with Rosewood

North Johnston’s Samantha Richardson (right) and Morgan Townsend (12) celebrate after a goal during against Rosewood during Friday’s 6-all tie.
North Johnston’s Samantha Richardson (right) and Morgan Townsend (12) celebrate after a goal during against Rosewood during Friday’s 6-all tie. newsobserver.com

It didn’t end with a win but, being down three goals at halftime, the North Johnston girls soccer team was happy enough to claw back for a 6-6 tie in a wild non-conference game against Rosewood Friday night.

Samantha Richardson tied her career high for goals in a game with four as the Panthers erased a 5-2 halftime deficit, completing the comeback with 10 minutes left as Cassidy Dowling ran onto the end of Morgan Townsend’s long throw-in and knocked the ball into the back of the net.

“It was quite a game; I’ve not seen one like that before—back-and-forth and both teams had chances,” North Johnston coach Jody Edwards said. “It was fun to watch.”

The high-scoring match came on a night when the Panthers were doing their part to help the American Cancer Society fight cancer. North wore pink jerseys and proceeds from the gate and a 50-50 raffle were donated.

True to form, Rosewood responded and had three good cracks at retaking the lead in the game’s final moments but North Johnston goalkeeper Olivia Padgett made two point blank saves against the Eagles’ Lexi Mercer.

A third Mercer strike on goal beat Padgett but glanced off the post and out of bounds with 1:20 left on the clock.

The Panther’s Richardson and Rosewood’s Payton Lane traded goals in the first half with Richardson taking advantage of two poorly cleared balls and clipping the ball past Rosewood keeper Jala Holloman.

Each time Richardson found the back of the net, however, Lane responded as the sophomore registered a hat trick before halftime. Lane netted her first goal on a breakaway, her second on a nice shot from the top of the box that caromed off the post and in and then on a brilliant free kick that clipped the underside of the crossbar before crossing the line.

Shelby Lemasters and Mercer added goals before halftime and despite being out-shot, the Eagles (1-0-1) possessed a 5-2 halftime advantage.

During the intermission, some changes were made to slow down Mercer and Rosewood midfielder Ada Rivera, who was responsible for organizing the Eagles’ attack.

“The main thing I told them at halftime was that this is our home field and we have to come together,” said Edwards. “I told them this was going to be our half.”

It took just 56 seconds before the Panthers (0-3-1) showed signs that Edwards was right with his prediction. Townsend collected the ball in the six-yard box off of a North Johnston corner kick and calmly netted her first goal of the season.

After Mercer beat the North Johnston backline for another breakaway goal, Richardson notched a pair of goals in a two-minute span to draw the Panthers to within 6-5 with 31 minutes remaining.

“We just talked about how we needed to push up on offense because we were bringing everybody back to play defense,” Samantha Richardson said. “But we told them that we needed to bring everybody up so we could get the opportunities and get more shots for everybody.

“I just knew that I had to get them in or somebody had to get them in to at least tie it.”

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