Prep soccer -- Hawks strike for EPC victory
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 21, 2004 1:57 PM
LAGRANGE -- Brandon Sutton's aggressiveness on the soccer field hasn't gone unobserved this season.
The sophomore's strong play, especially on the offensive side of the ball, drew attention from North Lenoir coach Jim Montague while he watched Sutton during a junior varsity game. Montague figured the Hawks could possibly use another potential goal scorer when his regular starters failed to produce.
He was right.
Sutton delivered the game-winning goal in the 99th minute as North Lenoir nipped SouthWest Edgecombe 2-1 in a key Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference match Wednesday evening. The victory boosted the Hawks to 4-1 in the EPC and put them in solid position to capture their third league title in the last four years.
The Cougars (2-3-1 EPC) endured their second one-goal loss in their last three outings.
"We called five jayvee players up and four of them could give a bunch of our people a run for their money," Montague said. "Brandon is real aggressive and he's not going to back down. I kept telling them at halftime and in overtime that we had to put somebody else (in to score).
"We've got five possible guys who can attack the goal, but we were only doing it with one or two people."
Senior midfielder Cody Jenkins didn't give Montague a tired signal during either of the two 10-minute overtimes, but Montague put Sutton into the game the first chance he got.
Neither team consistently kept pressure in the second overtime. However, the Hawks got the one possession they needed as the clock ticked under a minute remaining.
Senior midfielder Mike Ziegler ran onto a loose ball near the 30 and dribbled toward the 18-yard box. Ziegler pushed it toward Josh Williams, whose pass deflected off a couple of players.
Sutton did the rest.
"It just fell to an open area and I was the closest one to it," Sutton said of his left-footed shot. "It was just me and the goalie. I just went after it and kicked it past the goalie when he was coming out."
The Hawks (10-5-2) seized their 13th EPC victory in three-plus seasons. They also moved a step closer to securing their third postseason appearance in the last four years.
SouthWest Edgecombe (8-8-2) opened the scoring in the ninth minute.
Senior Doug Pearson gained control of a loose ball down the left sideline and dribbled past a defender toward the outside the 18. Pearson, an EPC champion in wrestling, crossed a low pass to Jason Letchworth.
North Lenoir keeper Doug Beal guarded the near post and Letchworth, with three white-shirted Hawks around him, fired a perfect strike to the low right corner. Letchworth managed just two shots on goal the rest of the evening.
A defensive miscue allowed the Hawks to tie the game in the 33rd minute.
Cougar sweeper Bailey Watkins attempted to clear a ball near his own goal and accidentally headed it back toward keeper D.J. Adcock. Adcock dove for the ball, but couldn't cover it completely.
The ball slipped from Adcock's grasp and rolled toward McGaughy's feet. McGaughy quickly pushed the ball to forward Josh Williams, who finished off the play for the 1-1 tie.
"That was same kind of play where we gave up a goal to Greene Central," Cougars head coach Dennis Creech said. "My goalie has been instructed to take the ball out and he can't think his way through under that kind of pressure.
"We played the best we could. We moved the ball well, got our chances and we couldn't convert."
Once the Hawks tied the game, they played a defensive-oriented scheme that bothered the Cougars. The visitors tried to maintain possession in the midfield, but suffered from turnovers.
North Lenoir intercepted numerous passes and organized attacks from the back, which created a few shots on goal. Although Montague's team missed its first three shots in the 18-plus minutes of overtime, he eventually thought the defense would produce at least one more scoring chance.
"If you look at our formation, everything is geared toward defense," Montague said. "Any ball club I coach is going to be a defensive team. I'm a firm believer that defense wins ball game.
"If you don't know how to teach them offense, you can teach them defense."
But Sutton's little left hook came in handy, too.
SW Edgecombe 1 0 0 0 -- 1
North Lenoir 1 0 0 1 -- 2
SWE -- Jason Letchworth (Doug Pearson assist), 8:48
NL -- Josh Williams (Alex McGaughy assist), 32:30
NL -- Brandon Sutton (Williams assist), 99:00
N. Lenoir SWE
14 Shots on goal 13
4 Corner kicks 5
1 Offsides 2
24 Fouls 14
Saves -- North Lenoir -- Douglas Beal 11. SW Edgecombe -- D.J. Adcock -- 7.
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