Prep soccer -- Tigers blank Panthers, take league lead
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 14, 2004 1:57 PM
WARSAW -- James Kenan seized sole possession of first place in the Class 1-A Carolina/Super Six Conference boys' soccer race in dominating fashion Wednesday evening.
Demetrio Barrera collected four goals and added an assist as the Tigers blitzed the Panthers 7-0 in a matchup between two state-ranked teams at Bill Taylor Field. James Kenan exited 6-0-1 in league play and should improve upon its No. 6 ranking in next week's N.C. Soccer Coaches Association 1-A poll.
North Johnston (14-3-2) dipped to 6-1-1 and endured its first defeat since Aug. 18 in the Smithfield Herald Cup. The Panthers, ranked third in the latest NCSCA poll, have lost all three games on the road.
"I'll be honest with you because the first ten or fifteen minutes, they had me worried," Tigers coach Steve le Roux said. "I knew we were up for a game."
Panther forward Jake Lomonaco fired three shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the opening half. The senior's first attempt, a one-on-one situation, rolled wide of the far post.
A couple of minutes later, Lomonaco received a throw-in from Garrett Stancil and dribbled between two Tiger defenders into the 6-yard area. James Kenan keeper Alex Barralaga came off his line, crouched and smothered Lomonaco's shot for his first save of the contest.
Lomonaco tried one more time and lofted a shot that Barralaga tipped over the crossbar. The Panthers failed to convert the corner kick -- one of three during the game.
"Ifs and buts," North Johnston coach Brent Walston said. "It was definitely an opportunity and I don't think we ever relaxed, and maybe that was my fault."
The Panthers suffered numerous turnovers at midfield and the Tigers took advantage of the visitors' sloppiness. They effectively used their speed and relentlessly attacked the goal, finally breaking through early in the 16th minute.
Barrera gained control of a ball inside the 18 and headed it toward Eric Cruz. Sitting just outside the box, Cruz settled it and hit a beautiful, low strike from the left side toward the near post.
Energized by the goal, James Kenan (11-2-2) continued its assault and added another score about 14 minutes later. Barrera dribbled near the right sideline, breezed past the final Panther defender and drew keeper Jay Pittman from the goal. Pittman tried to get his gloves on the ball, but Barrera hit a curve-like shot that just did sneak inside the near post for a 2-0 advantage.
"Everything in this game was decided in the first half," le Roux said. "We had four realistic chances and scored twice. They had three good chances; one great save and two they missed.
"Using our chances in the first half gave us that edge in the second half."
Barrera completed the natural hat trick with goals in the 44th and 49th minutes off assists from Alfredo Martinez and Hector Bermudez, respectively.
Jose Montoya cashed in a penalty kick in the 59th minute. Bermudez notched an unassisted goal in the 65th and Barrera, off Bermudez's second assist, concluded the scoring in the 67th minute.
James Kenan owned a decisive 21-10 edge in shots on goal.
"Their team speed and their ability to push into the attack, and make things happen had us on our heels a lot," Walston said. "We didn't get the ball up front and keep possession of it, and that was one of the keys, too."
The Tigers, now 15-0-2 in their last 17 league games, travel to Farmville Central next Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Panthers are the guests of Rosewood next Monday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Branch Pope Field.
North Johnston 0 0 -- 0
James Kenan 2 5 -- 7
JK -- Eric Cruz (Demetrio Barrera assist), 15:19
JK -- Barrera (unassisted), 29:26
JK -- Barrera (Alfredo Martinez assist), 43:50
JK -- Barrera (Hector Bermudez assist), 48:16
JK -- Jose Montoya PK, 58:24
JK -- Bermudez (unassisted), 64:58
JK -- Barrera (Bermudez assist), 66:46
21 Shots on goal 10
5 Corner kicks 3
3 Offsides 0
20 Fouls 16
Saves -- James Kenan -- Alex Barralaga 4. North Johnston -- Jay Pittman 3, Josh Cooper 4.
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