The knockout punch has been the hardest thing for the Millbrook girls soccer team to deliver so far this season.
It’s meant games being closer on the scoreboard than in the statistics.
That’s why head coach Matt Edwards was so pleased with the way his Wildcats finished off Cap-8 Conference foe Enloe with three second-half goals in a rainstorm on Thursday afternoon for a 5-0 triumph.
“I think that was a good challenge for us,” he said. “We have let a few games this year get a little closer than they should have been. We have let a few games get away from us at the end because we haven’t shut the door, we haven’t had that intensity throughout the entire game.”
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The Wildcats enter spring break with a 10-1-2 overall mark, 6-1-1 in league play.
Millbrook, ranked No. 5 in the latest N&O poll, led 2-0 at the break via unassisted finishes by sophomore Alexis Strickland in the eighth minute and junior Jensen Emerline in the 13th minute.
And despite controlling much of the flow of play on the ever-soggier pitch, the Wildcats did not find the back of the net again as Enloe senior keeper C.J. Garvey kept them at bay.
“Don’t wait for the storm to finish it,” Edwards implored his team during a brief five-minute halftime. “Deliver that knockout punch yourself.”
Enloe junior keeper Gabi Mikell came up with a brilliant save in the 47th minute as four Millbrook players – junior Hayley Flowers, freshman Makaya Parham, junior Bryn Lloyd and senior Maya Celettie worked the ball into the box before Celettie got off a shot that Mikell snuffed out.
But a minute later on a restart after an Eagles’ foul, Laren Griffiths struck a ball from 30 yards out that went past all Enloe defenders to a running Strickland, who finished to make it 3-0.
“We played exceptional up to then,” Enloe head coach Brian Schnitzlein said. “We did not mark that well.”
Four minutes later, senior Brianna Morris pushed the advantage to 4-0 on a penalty kick after she was taken down in the penalty area.
The Wildcats continued their assault, eventually owning a 9-0 edge in shots in the second half, and got the game’s last score in the 72nd when senior Gabby Sturla fed Emerline, who beat Mikell in the top far corner. A lightning strike soon after ended the game.
Millbrook junior keeper Erin Mulligan got the shutout.
The loss dropped Enloe’s record to 6-8-1 overall and 0-7 in the Cap-8. Forwards Snigdha Sompalli and Gigi Cloney led the offensive push for the Eagles.