The shots kept coming from Wakefield. The saves kept coming from Middle Creek’s Caroline Lauer.
The goalkeeper turned away shot after shot to preserve the Mustangs’ upset victory in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls soccer playoffs. Middle Creek won 2-1, handing the Wolverines their first loss of the season.
Facing the Cap-8 Conference champions, Middle Creek coach Guy Coleman had a clear plan to cut off Kaitlyn Bouck (20 assists) and key in on Tori Hansen (North Carolina recruit), who was playing up top as a forward.
“The plan was to defend corners, cut off (Bouck), wear (Hansen) like a glove and press the ‘D’ and get some quick goals in and hold off, and that’s what we did,” Coleman said.
It worked well in the first half, and the Mustangs (14-5-3) got an all-important first goal just seven minutes in as Mattie Murphy assisted Kylie McElroy. Wakefield (16-1-3) hasn’t had to face an early deficit often.
In the 30th minute, Murphy doubled the lead with a shot on the left side of the box into the right side netting. The 2-0 lead lasted through halftime.
“It’s probably between (Lauer) and Mattie Murphy tonight (for player of the game),” Coleman said.
Middle Creek, the 4A East champ form a year ago, will host Heritage in the next round. The Mustangs are 8-1-1 at home this season.
Wakefield had nearly all of the possession and all of the shots in the second half, but Lauer was at her best.
“Sometimes soccer’s like that, the way it ended tonight,” Wakefield coach C.J. Komons said. “We can’t be mad because we didn’t play bad. We played really well, we created the opportunities that we needed to create, they just didn’t fall. Their keeper came up with some really big saves.”
In the 60th, Wakefield finally broke through as McRae Calhoun had a sparkling header off a cross from Sierra Lowery. The final 20 minutes produced more Wakefield shots, but none found the net.
It was an emotional end for the Wolverines, the first Cap-8 champs in program history, especially with the way it ended.
“I did tell them that we did have a phenomenal year, it’s been one heck of a season,” Komons said. “We did accomplished something that no other Wakefield team accomplished.”