Janelle Reid scored a pair of goals while Leah Rodgers and Kendall Gillespi also found the back of the net in a 4-0 Clayton win over West Johnston in the Four Oaks Bank Cup title game Wednesday night at Smithfield-Selma High School.
Emery Biggs assisted on the first three goals for the Comets (2-0) to earn the tournament’s award for Offensive Most Valuable Player while Gillespi was tabbed as the event’s Defensive Most Valuable Player.
“We came in with a game plan,” Clayton coach Brian Stevens said. “I know the coach. I know the style of play. I came in with an unorthodox strategy today, and the girls looked at me kind of funny, but they executed it perfectly.”
Most of that strategy was centered on slowing down West Johnston striker Robin Pollard.
Pollard, who scored 59 goals last season as a junior, was met by wave after wave of Clayton defenders and was forced to take most of her shots from outside the box.
“We played a very tight D, a very tight team defense,” Stevens said. “Robin can beat any one player at any given time, so we tried to make it where she had to go through four.”
The game was a physical one, with a combined 23 fouls, two yellow cards, a red card and two players leaving the field on the back of a Gator.
West Johnston keeper Breana Garica left with a knee injury in the 10th minute and Clayton’s Gina Palazzolo left with a knee injury of her own in the 56th minute.
The Comets started to have success getting the ball out wide to Reid after Garcia’s departure, and the Wildcats (2-1) allowed three first-half goals to trail 3-0 at the break.
“We just look forward from here,” West Johnston coach Luke Waddell said. “The ladies were put in a tough spot tonight, but no excuses. We’ll have some key players back when we see them again. It’s tough, but we just look forward from here.”
Clayton hosts East Carteret on Friday while West Johnston visits Cleveland Wednesday.