The Wakefield girls’ soccer team did something no other team has done – beat Leesville Road.
The Pride carried hopes of ending their season undefeated into Wednesday’s Cap-8 Conference penultimate match, but the Wolverines brought the pressure.
And it was more pressure than when they lost at Leesville earlier this year.
It was the type of pressure coach C.J. Komons knew his team was capable of in its 1-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Pride.
“We tried to work the entire game, and I feel like we did a good job working. It’s always good to beat an undefeated team,” he said. “I always tell them if we keep the ball and we possess the ball, we’re going to get opportunities, and that’s what we did. We worked hard and we worked for the opportunities we got.”
But pressure isn’t exactly how Wakefield won the game; it’s how it got a leg up on a Pride team that plays Millbrook for the conference championship Friday. Leesville scored an own goal in the final three minutes of the match to hand the Wolverines the victory, unable to capitalize on a plethora of opportunities.
“We created enough chances to take care of business,” Pride coach Paul Dinkenor said. “It’s disappointing after 21 games to take a loss. I felt like we created enough chances to win the game. We hit the bar, we penetrated the box, but, no excuses.”
Wakefield senior defender Courtney Senter lined up for a throw in the 76th minute, aiming for her tallest teammate inside a loaded box. The ball got lost in a sea of jerseys before it bounced in off the post.
Senter ran into the group of jubilant Wolverines who were preparing to hold off the conference leader for just a few more minutes. Wakefield sophomore goal keeper Rachel Hennekamp picked up the shutout, recording eight saves.
“It’s very exciting,” Senter said. “We were all tired; it felt really good. It makes us feel like we could have won all the other games if we tried hard enough.”
Leesville has allowed just six goals on the year following the loss. It has posted 13 shutouts.
A somber sideline wasn’t discouraged after the setback, however. Dinkenor was anxious to see how his strong group would respond at Millbrook.
Failure here is not fatal.
Pride coach Paul Dinkenor
“Failure here is not fatal,” he said. “It depends on how we react to it in practice and getting ready for Friday. I thought we played extremely well in the second half. I mean, we don’t want to make excuses at Leesville. The strength of our team is we’re very positive, we’re a very humble team and credit to Wakefield.”
Leesville is replete with young talent with an interchangeable midfield. A freshman leads the team in scoring, a sophomore used speed to penetrate Wakefield’s defense throughout Wednesday’s game and the core of youth is looking forward to the future – starting with Millbrook.
“I think we can pick ourselves up,” Leesville freshman forward Hannah Arostegui said. “I think we’ll come out strong. Just because we lost tonight doesn’t mean there’s no chance of us winning Cap-8.”
Three to know
Morgan Nanni, Wakefield: The junior forward brought the heat from off the bench. She constantly pressured Leesville, recording five shots. She also had a good eye for her teammates and penetrated well in opportune situations.
Meghan O’Ferral, Wakefield: The junior defender led Wakefield’s early charge of maintaining possession in the first half. She used her speed in space to break away from Leesville defenders in attempts to find scoring opportunities.
Jordin Mosley, Leesville Road: The sophomore was successful in advancing the ball deep on multiple occasions for the Pride, not backing down from one-on-one situations at mid. She was speedy and flew to the ball, most notably in the opening minutes of the second half.
Shannon Hardy, Leesville: The senior goalie kept the hosts out as best she could before the chaos in the 76th minute. She knocked away two crucial Wakefield shots in 10 minutes leading up the goal and leaped into several other attempts.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan