05/13/04 — N. Johnston/Richlands soccer

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N. Johnston/Richlands soccer

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 13, 2004 2:53 PM

RICHLANDS -- Still in its growing stages, Brent Walston is to see North Johnston girls soccer move from crawling to taking a few steps as he continues to build the Class 1-A program.

The Panthers learned a lot Wednesday evening.

Richlands, a solid and tradition-rich program on the 2-A level, showed its playoff experience in the opening round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A/2-A playoffs. The Wildcats, state champions in 2000 and 2001, had five different players to score at least one goal in an 8-0 victory.

"You've got to learn to crawl before you can walk, and you've got to score goals," first-year North Johnston coach Brent Walston said. "They were the better team than us, but I think our girls learned something.

"We know, any time you come down this way, you're going to have to play a very good game. We didn't play a bad game, but we reacted to them. Good teams make you do that."

Stefanie Jones started North Johnston's strongest offensive attack 10 minutes into the opening half. The sophomore midfielder collected a loose ball and pushed it forward to fellow sophomore Jenna Gudac.

Gudac kicked it outside to Martha Godwin, who made a great run down the right sideline. Godwin fired a right-footed shot toward the near post that deflected off the inside of the crossbar and rolled over the end line.

"The one shot -- the one good opportunity we had, had that gone, that would have pumped them up even more," Walston said. "We would have loved to have gotten on the board.

But the Panthers, scoreless in five playoff appearances, wouldn't get another goal-scoring chance the rest of the game.

Richlands (14-8) continued to play tight defense and prevented North Johnston (11-10) from getting any consistent push on the ball. Once that happened, the Panthers settled into a defensive mode.

The Wildcats organized well from the back and kicked long balls over the defense to the middle or down the side. Walston double-marked senior striker Tara Davis, but had to abandon that strategy once Davis got into goal-scoring mode.

Davis' first goal was a 30-yard rocket that settled into the low corner of the net in the 17th minute. She added a 25-yard blast in the 26th minute and finished off her third hat trick (three goals) of the season six minutes into the second half.

"She's a phenomenal player," Walston said. "I knew she was their go-to girl, but when you've got (Tori) Batchelor and six (Amber Aloia) pushing up, we immediately had to adjust.

"Brandi Brinchek did a great job on her. Their first three shots (goals) were unreal ... untouchable. (Goalie) Allison Hinnant has nothing to be ashamed of because they're a very good team."

Aloia scored twice and assisted on two goals. Batchelor, Natasia Negron and Tara Davis each tallied a single goal. Richlands owned a decisive 23-5 edge in shots on goal and had three corner kicks compared to none for North Johnston.

Wildcat keepers Whitney Beverly and Bonita Ervin combined for the shutout in goal.

Godwin, Trudy Brown and Christy Johnson -- all seniors -- played their final game for the Panthers. Walston is expected to return 14 players next season.

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association

Classes 1-A/2-A Girls

Soccer Playoffs -- First round

(at Richlands HS)

North Johnston 0 0 -- 0

Richlands 4 4 -- 8

First half

R -- Bailey (unassisted), 16:50

R -- Bailey (unassisted), 25:08

R -- Negron (Aloia assist), 26:30

R -- Batchelor (Aloia assist), 32:37

Second half

R -- Bailey (unassisted), 45:58

R -- Aloia (unassisted), 51:38

R -- Aloia (Davis assist), 52:53

R -- Davis (unassisted), 55:22

NJ Richlands

5 Shots 23

0 Corner kicks 3

4 Offsides 0

3 Fouls 9

Saves -- North Johnston -- Hinnant 5, Brinchek 1. Richlands -- Beverly 3, Ervin 0.