Prep soccer -- Rosewood plays well in loss to state-ranked Kenan
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 26, 2004 1:57 PM
WARSAW -- Rosewood executed its game plan to near perfection and extended state-ranked James Kenan to the limit Monday evening.
The only thing missing was a victory.
Goal-keeper Alex Barralaga stopped a crucial penalty kick in the 67th minute as James Kenan escaped 2-1 in a Class 1-A Carolina/ Super Six Conference encounter at Bill Taylor Field. The Tigers preserved their unbeaten mark in league play and seized their eighth consecutive win overall since a home loss to East Duplin on Sept. 21.
The Eagles (10-10-1) scribed copious notes from their two-goal loss against James Kenan on Sept. 29 and devised a scheme to neutralize the Tigers' speed on the front line. Rosewood spread the field, switched the ball on numerous occasions and organized well from the back.
The steady ball movement forced the Tigers (14-2-2, 9-0-1) to expend energy and chase passes toward each sideline. The Eagles' strategy disrupted the Tigers' normal offensive game of stringing together passes and utilizing their quickness on the wings.
"We've talked about that and we wanted to put pressure on them, and us not having to defend right off the bat," veteran Eagles coach Daniel Mitchell said. "I thought we did that well at times trying to make them defend instead of us playing back on our heels the whole game."
James Kenan appeared disorganized in its midfield play and lost numerous possessions near the opponents' 18-yard box. The Tigers' Hector Bermudez and Demetrio Barrera got loose for a potential shot on goal, but their teammates pushed the ball too far forward into open spaces.
Bermudez and Barrera couldn't catch up to the ball which usually got kicked back upfield by one of three Eagle defenders -- Joey Churchwell, Kyle Bunn or Kenton Lowe. Lowe held Barrera to five shots on goal -- all misses from the left side of the goal.
"I knew it was going to be tough," Tigers coach Steve le Roux said. "I tried telling the players that, but they saw that Rosewood lost to North Johnston last week, so they thought, 'easy game.'
"We really didn't play the first half. I think we were surprised by how well they were structured. The first twenty minutes, they were attacking the whole time."
The teams combined to miss 12 shots on goal in the first 30 minutes of action.
The Tigers finally broke the scoreless tie in the 31st minute. The Eagles' Tyler Daniels had possession near midfield, but was tackled hard and the ball rolled toward Barrera.
Barrera dribbled from the middle of the field to the left side of the box and blasted a shot at the near post. The ball deflected off the post and into the right corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Rosewood didn't quit.
Senior forward Matt Howell triggered a corner kick in the 39th minute and the ball sailed into a crowd of players near Barralaga in goal. Goss Kendall, a sophomore midfielder, struck a beautiful shot past a diving Barralaga into the low right corner.
The teams entered halftime tied at 1-1.
"We had had several chances on the corner kicks and I thought it was just a matter of time," Mitchell said. "We were getting some pretty good looks and the ball happened to bounce our way. We got it in.
"That was a big goal for us."
James Kenan benefited from a tight foul call less than two minutes into the second half. The midfield official awarded a penalty kick and Mario Mejia easily converted the shot for a 2-1 advantage.
Each team continued to take shots on goal, but came up empty due to tremendous saves by Barralaga and Eagle keeper Antell Richards.
Rosewood had a chance to collect the equalizer in the 67th minute when a Tiger defender tackled Churchwell in the penalty box. Brandon Hietpas attempted a shot toward the upper corner at the near post, but Barralaga made a two-handed glove save.
"An excellent save," le Roux said. "Penalty kicks ... that's almost like an eighty-percent goal. That was tough for them, but I was happy he was able to keep it out of goal."
Despite a 17-14 advantage in shots on goal and Barralaga's eight-save effort, le Roux admitted he was not happy with the Tigers' play. James Kenan turned over too many possessions and couldn't find any flow offensively during the 80-minute contest.
Mitchell couldn't have been more pleased with his team's performance.
"I'm extremely proud of the effort and the way we played tonight," he said. "The kids played a solid game. Both teams played hard."
James Kenan picked up its 18th conference win in its last 20 outings and beat Rosewood for the third time in four tries. The Tigers, ranked No. 5 in the latest N.C. Soccer Coaches Association poll, entertain Farmville Central today. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Eagles play host to county rival Spring Creek in their final regular-season contest Wednesday. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Branch Pope Field.
Rosewood 1 0 -- 1
James Kenan 1 1 -- 2
JK -- Demetrio Barrera (unassisted), 30:33
R -- Goss Kendall (unassisted), 39:00
JK -- Mario Mejia PK, 41:26
14 Shots on goal 17
9 Corner kicks 6
15 Fouls 22
0 Offsides 1
Saves -- Rosewood -- Antell Richards 9. James Kenan -- Alex Barralaga 8.
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