It took a little longer than normal – thanks to a 45-minute lightning delay during the boys’ match – but the East All-Stars earned their first sweep in three years of the annual N.C. Coaches Association East-West Soccer All-Star Games with a lot of help from Triangle- and Eastern N.C.-area stars Tuesday night at Macpherson Stadium at Bryan Park.
The matching 2-1 victories by the East squads is the first since 2013.
Corinth Holders High grad Pedro Segundo scored what turned out to be the game-winner in the boys’ clash on a low 22-yard grounder with 45 seconds left in the first half.
“I got the ball nice and hard from my fullback,” said Segundo, who will play at Appalachian State. “I turned around and saw that they gave me a lot of space, took on two, three players and just shot it and got it in.”
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The goal and his part in an East offense that seemed to thrive on its numerous blasts from 20-plus yards out earned him MVP honors.
Broughton grad Lily Schneider – headed to play at Wake Forest in the fall – scored what turned into the game-winner with 23 minutes, 25 seconds to play, turning on a short cross from Cristina Galvan of Elizabeth City’s Northeastern to put the East up 2-0 in the girls’ game.
Fuquay-Varina’s Megan Greene was the game’s most outstanding player, recording five shots, although the Charlotte recruit didn’t figure in the scoring line.
The first East goal came on a corner kick from Kate Spaid of Jacksonville to the head of Baley Edwards (Wilmington Laney) just after the midway point of the first half.
Plenty of blasts
The lightning-shortened boys’ match – taking only 70 minutes of playing time – featured a combined 25 shots from the two teams, but only five on goal. The East’s Wesley Nelson (Laney) and the West’s Nicholas Lugo (Southwest Guilford) scored the other goals.
Segundo led all players with seven shots, but the only one he got on goal was the one that found the net.
“I felt like we took the shots that were there,” said Leesville Road grad Matthew Bissette, a defender who is headed to South Carolina to play. “We just wanted to move the ball from the wing to the middle, then took the shots as they presented themselves.”
Added Segundo: “They gave us space and we exposed the space.”
The East roster also featured Broughton’s Wilhelm O’Neal (Hampden-Sydney), Will Tomlinson of Apex, Nicholas Hughes of Franklin Academy, Holden Stefan of the Durham School of the Arts and Tristin Smith of Wilson’s Hunt High.
Smith had one save and didn’t allow a goal in his 39 minutes of play.
The defense didn’t rest
The East girls’ squad shook off some early scoring chances from the West before settling in and holding the West scoreless aside from Debbie Killian of East Forsyth High’s free kick goal with 17 minutes to play.
Spring Creek goalie Kaitlyn Sullivan made five saves, several of them the 1-vs.-1 variety. In fact, it was the Mount Olive recruit’s work that held the East lead at 1-0.
“That was more of those than I’ve seen in a match before,” Sullivan said of the frequent one-on-one battles. “They were doing a good job of getting us turned and finding space to get into the open. I probably should have come out a little quicker on some of them than I did.”
The West outshot the East 19-16, but didn’t have many formed pieces of offense.
“I think we dealt with some nerves in the beginning, but once we settled down we played really well as a team,” Sullivan said. “Once we got the second goal, we seemed to really settle in and play with confidence, which we needed to the way they were coming at us trying to tie it up.”
Johnston County standouts Amanda Eckard of Corinth Holders (a Francis Marion signee) and Nicole Guerrero of Clayton (Methodist) both started for the East.
“I think we talked really well. Our centers really let us on the outsides know what to do,” Guerrero said. “They let us know when to attack and when to drop. So I think the centers really helped control the game and let our outsides to get the ball up when we needed to.”
Added Eckard: “A lot of talking did help us out as a team. They (the midfielders) were good at feeding the ball out and moving it up.”
More fun, more competitive
The Triangle area stars said the All-Star week experience – the teams reported Sunday – was a little different than they expected.
Penn State recruit Marissa Kowalski, a Cardinal Gibbons grad, was among those.
“I was really expecting it to be more like an I.D. camp with a lot more individual focus than it was,” Kowalski said of the East-West experience. “But it was really a great week with great teammates. I just feel so really blessed to have been a part of it.
“The game was a lot more intense than I thought it would be, especially with how close it was at the end.”
Guerrero was surprised at how easily the team started to work together.
“It was more fun than I thought it would be; a lot more relaxed,” Guerrero said. “We didn’t have to change any plays or run any games. It was all letting us play our individual games and use our talent and work together.”
Bissette was thrilled with the flow and competitiveness of the boys’ game.
“It was a very fun week,” Bissette said. “I played in the Clash of the Carolinas as well and this was more competitive than that match. I think it was more that it was a battle of North Carolina turf and we wanted that win.”
Six in area start for girls’ squad
Six players in our area started the match: Guerrero, Schneider, Eckard, Kowalski, Greene and Chapel Hill’s Morgan Brandewie. Kelly Suggs of Fuquay-Varina, like Greene playing at Charlotte in the fall, and Northern Nash’s Rebekah Beal came off of the bench.