08/24/04 — Prep soccer -- Top-ranked White Oak drops Warriors

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Prep soccer -- Top-ranked White Oak drops Warriors

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 24, 2004 1:58 PM

Top-ranked White Oak notched an early goal -- 56 seconds into the contest -- against Eastern Wayne on Monday evening. The initial mark would have bothered most teams and possibly led to a demoralizing loss.

The Warriors didn't let that happen.

Admittedly, they played a defensive-minded game for the first 10 minutes before settling their nerves against the state's No. 1 Class 3-A boys' soccer program. Eastern Wayne played White Oak on an even keel for the next 60 minutes before its central midfield broke down in a 4-1 loss at Little Big Horn.

Dustin Smith and Brendan Kennedy

News-Argus/Dennis Hill

Eastern Wayne's Dustin Smith (10) vies for control of the ball with White Oak's Brendan Kennedy (3).

It was the season-opening contest for both teams.

White Oak took the kickoff and immediately pushed the ball toward Eastern Wayne's goal. The first shot missed, but a few seconds later, junior midfielder John Kearns picked up a loose ball about 40 yards from goal. Kearns, with three white-shirted Warriors surrounding him, dribbled into the penalty box and crossed the ball toward the goal.

Josh Kennedy, a junior midfielder, followed the play and slid toward the line. Warrior keeper Stephen Stackhouse, who had played the near post, dove back to his left just as Kennedy connected for the one-goal lead.

"The first ten minutes I think we were quite shell-shocked; maybe the first 20 minutes," veteran Eastern Wayne coach Jorg Wagner said. "With an early goal like that and all of a sudden the guys are looking at each other and (thinking) 'oh, where is this going?'

"Then, once we settled down a little bit defensively, it evened out a little bit more."

Eastern Wayne attempted its usual plan of trying to string together passes and organize an attack. The Vikings, who were much quicker and bigger in the backfield, easily countered. They intercepted numerous passes and prevented the Warriors from creating offense.

Nickolai Rosinski and Dustin Smith, who are battling to handle the ball-distribution responsibility, struggled. Several times either player found himself in a one-on-one situation and kicked the ball too far ahead, which Viking keeper Brian Stitz easily cleared back upfield.

"That is something that did not work well for us tonight. We were not quick enough to the ball. We were not intelligent enough to the ball," Wagner said. "There is no team no matter how quick you are, if you play a good possession game, that can chase down the ball effectively for eighty minutes. It just doesn't happen.

"It's not good enough any more to just play a pass. It has to be an absolutely accurate pass for one of our guys to get on the other end. If the pass is not accurate, they will step in, take it away and build it again from the back."

White Oak's Devan Carroll, a junior midfielder, collected back-to-back goals in the 64th and 76th minutes. The Warriors' Robert Gambella had shadowed Carroll for most of the evening, but a minor switch in the Vikings' scheme allowed Carroll to attack from the wing.

Eastern Wayne averted the shutout in the 77th minute.

Rosinski served a free kick from near midfield that floated toward the penalty area. Andrew Courley battled a White Oak defender for possession and trapped it off his chest. The ball bounced once and Courley, with an open net, easily tucked it away for the Warriors' first goal of the season.

"We really only had one clear chance," Wagner said. "We took it and put it in. That's nice and should give us some confidence. They guys got excited about scoring there and I think we ticked them off a little bit.

"They came out and stuck it right back in."

Brendan Kennedy's unassisted goal concluded the scoring for White Oak, the reigning N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A champion.

Wagner appeared pleased with the Warriors' ability to match the Vikings' physical play. He also cited the team's never-quit attitude and noted they played hard for each possession until the final whistle.

White Oak 1 3 -- 4

Eastern Wayne 0 1 -- 1

First half

WO -- Cole (Kearns assist), 0:56

Second half

WO -- Carroll, 63:05

WO -- Carroll, 75:02

EW -- Corley (Rosinki assist), 76:02

WO -- Kennedy, 76:25

White Oak EW

27 Shots on goal 3

5 Corner kicks 0

3 Offsides 1

12 Fouls 16

Saves -- E. Wayne -- Stackhouse 10.