Veteran Corinth Holders coach Brent Walston said he didn’t make a spectacular halftime speech.
But his team certainly became a lot more efficient in the second half against host West Johnston in the semifinals of the JUSA Cup on Tuesday night.
Derek Kaple had two goals and an assist during the Pirates’ four-goal, second-half barrage en route to a 5-1 victory.
Corinth Holders (3-1) – which also beat the Wildcats in last season’s semifinals – is the defending champion in the event, while West (2-3) won the titles in 2011 and 2007.
The win put the Pirates, members and defending champions of the Two Rivers 3A while the Wildcats are in the Greater Neuse River 4A, in line to face the winner of Thursday’s second semifinal between Clayton and South Johnston for the championship at a date and site to be determined. There will not be a third-place game.
“I feel like our fitness showed in the second half and we were able to wear their defense down,” Walston said. “We started the second half like gangbusters. We re-focused a little at the half.
“It was an even game in the first half, but we outshot them 10-1 in the first half. I felt like we were creating chances and eventually it would break.”
Just three minutes into the second half Alan Landeros created his own shot up the middle from about 15 yards out to break the halftime tie, leading to three Pirate goals in 11 minutes to put the game away.
They said it
“They have three outstanding players (Kaple, Landeros and Pedro Segundo) who are unbelievably skilled with the ball and could beat our backs at will,” said first-year West coach Luke Waddell. “I don’t think Kaple made a mistake the entire game, and after a couple of goals went in things broke down for us. I think we’re more solid as a team at a lot of positions, but those three guys really hurt us.”
Three who mattered
Derek Kaple, Corinth Holders: The senior forward had a pair of goals and an assist, all after the Pirates took the lead in the second half.
“Coach kept telling us to shoot, shoot, shoot and that’s what we did,” Kaple said. “We possessed around the back a lot and we played through the midfield like we were supposed to. We want to keep the trophy and not give it away.”
Ryan McDaniel, Corinth Holders: The junior midfielder scored the tying goal for Corinth Holders in the 26th minute, then scored again in the 49th to make it 3-1.
“It would mean a lot to win this,” McDaniel said. “We played the second half like we didn’t want to lose. The one thing we need to do is move the ball faster.”
Brendan Boyd, West Johnston: The senior midfielder scored the Wildcats’ goal eight minutes into the game on an assist from Luis Molina.
“I was running near-post and coach yelled at me and said, ‘Brendan, get in a good position!’ ” Boyd said. “I saw the back post open and Luis made a nice double move, crossed it and I decided to go with my foot.”
By the numbers
4: Points for McDaniel.
5: Points for Kaple, plus unanswered goals for Corinth Holders after the 1-0 deficit.
7: Consecutive wins against Johnston county opposition for the Pirates.
8: Saves for West goalie Jake Maloney.
13: Corinth Holders shots.
14: Points for Kaple this season.
The Pirates have eight more non-conference games before opening Two Rivers play on Sept. 28 against Smithfield-Selma.
The Wildcats faced two more conference games before opening GNRC play on Sept. 9 against Rolesville.