The Pirates (11-3, 4-1 PAC-6 4A) took home their first Bull City Cup title with a 2-1, come-from-behind victory against Durham School of the Arts (7-5, 3-1 Mid-State 2A) on Friday. Possession has been critical in Riverside’s five-game win streak (nine of the last 10).
“We knew we could out-possess this team,” captain Zach Litzinger said. “We beat them once earlier in the season. We have a lot of skilled players in the midfield that we can just pass around the ball. I think we did a good job of that in the second half, just taking control.”
Millbrook (13-2, 6-1 Cap-8 4A) is atop the conference at the midway point after a 3-0 win over Sanderson on Monday and a 2-1 overtime victory last Thursday against Leesville Road.
Goalkeeper Grafton Potter said Wildcats have goals that are much higher than in recent seasons.
“I think we surpassed our wins total from last year five games ago,” Potter said. “At this point, we have our eyes on the prize. We want to win the Cap-8. There’s nothing less than that we’re going to accept at this point. We want to make playoffs because we’ve missed that the last two years, but we know that we can do that at this point and we can set our goals a lot higher than originally expected.”
Sanderson coach Todd Worley said he’s confident the Spartans (8-3-1, 4-2) can regroup after falling to Millbrook 3-0 on Monday. Most of the match was played with Millbrook attacking on Sanderson’s end of the field.
“I still think whoever wins the conference will have three or four losses,” he said. “There is so much parity in the Cap-8. Teams match up different ways, and we had some match up issues. (Millbrook) deserved to win.”
After last week’s loss to Millbrook, Leesville coach Paul Dinkenor said he would like to see more playing the ball to feet, because the Pride (9-6-1, 5-2) lack height, and overlapping from the central midfielders.
“They were big, fast and strong at the back, so to get around the back, so to get around the back and cross the ball to feet, which is our forte, was hard to do,” Dinkenor said. “We didn’t stop trying, but most of our other shots were 15-20 yards, 1-v-1 and stuff like that. That’s a credit to their defense.”
Ravenscroft (7-7-1, 3-2 TISAC) has started to click on offense, scoring nine goals in its last two games including four last Tuesday against Wake Christian.
“We weren’t playing our style,” said coach Alix Charles. “We weren’t playing our game. We needed to start passing the ball, do what we know how. Once they started to do that, the goals came in.”
Coach Wayne Helder knows his team still has work to do to compete with the likes of Ravenscroft, but saw good signs in last week’s 4-2 loss: the Bulldogs (9-4, 0-4 TISAC) led at halftime and showed some fight after falling behind 3-1.
“(Ravenscroft’s) been a solid side the last few years and one of the better teams in the state of North Carolina,” Helder said. “We’ve certainly closed the gap and made it more competitive matches, and we need to put ourselves in the position to win some of those matches in the future.”
The Rams (6-4-3, 3-0) are tied for first in the Two Rivers 3A after Dominic Piatek lifted the team to a 1-0 win against South Johnston last week. Cleveland has a showdown next week with Corinth Holders.
“We got a ball in good space and played it right,” Cleveland coach Nicholas Gruhn said. “I’m feeling pretty good about being 2-0 in the conference. We didn’t give up a goal this week.”
The Trojans (4-7, 1-1 Two Rivers 3A) had won four of six befor the loss.
“The effort was great on both sides,” said South assistant coach Edgar Herrera, filling in for head coach David Diviak who was attending a graduate school class. “They put away their best chance. We had a few good ones, but unfortunately we couldn’t finish. Our goalie had a solid performance.”
Herrera was a football and soccer star at South, scoring 158 goals for third-most all-time in NCHSAA history while also kicking for the 2009 3AA football runners-up.
Andrew Tie, Tom Shanahan, James Tatter and Jordana Clark contributed.