03/30/04 — Soccer -- Maloney leads NL past Eagles

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Soccer -- Maloney leads NL past Eagles

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on March 30, 2004 1:57 PM

North Lenoir center midfielder Katie Maloney was late coming out for soccer this season because of the Lady Hawks' lengthy basketball playoff run.

She hasn't missed a beat since joining the squad, and seems to have even brought some of her basketball skills to the soccer field.

On two occasions midway through the first half, Maloney passed to Haley Bright, who dished back to Maloney in true "give-and-go" fashion for a pair of goals as the Lady Hawks' claimed a 5-1 win over Rosewood at Branch Pope Field Monday night.

Maloney finished with a natural hat-trick (three-straight goals) in the first half, while Bright added a goal to give North Lenoir a 4-1 lead at halftime.

"You can tell that when she is on the field, she is like the quarterback and she spreads the ball around," North Lenoir coach Dan Amadeo said. "Everybody on our team knows that Katie is going to be the catalyst."

North Lenoir (7-0-1 overall) improved to 3-0 in Class 2-A Eastern Plains/Class 1-A Carolina/Super-Six Conference play with the key, early season win.

Rosewood (7-2 overall) suffered its first conference loss and is now 3-1.

"We gave them too much space in the middle, and she exploited all the space we gave her," Rosewood coach Eddie Maldonado said. "She (Maloney) just abused my midfield and defense in the first half."

"The second half we looked a little bit better."

During the early going in the first half, the Hawks found themselves in a position they had only been in one time before this season -- behind.

The Eagles' Erin Thibodeau finished Stephanie Behrend's fourth corner kick in a 12-minute stretch to open the game to push Rosewood ahead 1-0.

The two potent offenses traded deep, attacking runs in the early stages of the first, but Maloney and the North Lenoir midfield quickly found their rhythm.

Maloney tallied the first of her goals just inside and at the top of the 18-yard box with an unassisted, left-footed strike into the left corner to tie the game at 1-1 midway through the half.

Within 10 minutes, Maloney scored twice more on give-and-go assists from Bright to push the score to 3-1. Bright capped the scoring late in the half by finishing a corner kick to send the Hawks into the half with a 4-1 advantage.

"I think we've been down one time before, but with the offense that we have, we will be able to put ourselves back in the game," Amadeo said.

The second half saw improved midfield play from Rosewood, and it had a handful of near misses that could have made the score closer. Facing a gusty second-half wind, Thibodeau and Behrend counter-attacked North Lenoir on several occasions near the midway point of the second.

North Lenoir goalie Febe Baraza had seven saves on the game, including a stop from point-blank range late in the game.

"I think after we gave up the three goals, we were so worried about dropping back that we didn't worry about pushing forward," Maldonado said. "We were basically playing two forwards against their five defenders."

Bright tacked on her second goal of the game on a long throw-in from reserve Julie Thomas to tally the game's final score with eight minutes left.

Ruthanne Hardy and Stephanie Melton paced the Hawks defensively.

Rosewood goalie Molly Grantham had 10 saves on the game.

Both teams return to conference action on the road on Wednesday as North Lenoir travels to Spring Creek, while Rosewood takes on SouthWest Edgecombe in Pinetops.