04/21/05 — Warriors turn back Pam Pack in ECC 3-A soccer

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Warriors turn back Pam Pack in ECC 3-A soccer

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 21, 2005 1:59 PM

Less than 48 hours after pulling off a miraculous overtime comeback Monday evening at Charles B. Aycock, the Washington women's soccer team hoped history might repeat itself Wednesday evening.

Eastern Wayne thought otherwise.

The Warriors, who were celebrating Senior Night, denied the Pam Pack 2-0 in their Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference match at Little Big Horn. The shutout performance kept Eastern Wayne (8-4, 7-1 ECC) in the hunt for its first regular-season championship since 2002.

"A very important win for us," Warriors coach Jorg Wagner said. "If we hadn't gotten the result, it would have been difficult to maintain second place. Now we still have a chance for the conference title.

"It keeps the door open."

Eastern Wayne has road games remaining at Aycock and West Carteret, which has either shared or won outright all three ECC titles. Five of the league's six teams advance to the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. The regular-season champ earns a first-round bye, while the No. 2 team receives an opening-round home game.

The Warriors misfired on all four first-half shot attempts, including two inside the 6-yard box. The Pam Pack took two shots on goal, but keeper Morgan Pritchett easily smothered both attempts.

The scoreless half didn't bother Wagner too much.

"I thought we won most of the balls in the midfield and there was a lot of skirmishing in the midfield in the first half," Wagner said. "Not much popped out of it. That's due in part to our sweeper Jennifer Bircher and their sweeper (Brooke Woolard), who were two of the strongest players on the pitch at the time."

At halftime, Wagner moved Natalie Taylor up a few feet at forward to compensate for Woolard, who was playing deep at her position.

The physical game flowed back and forth for 20 minutes until the Warriors finally executed an offensive strategy that Wagner mentioned at halftime.

Woolard tried to clear a loose ball about 20 yards from goal, but sophomore Carol Reinier covered the open space and redirected the ball to Samantha Frazer. Frazer easily ran past Woolard for a one-on-one against Pam Pack keeper Sam Yates, who stayed on her line.

Frazer, a sophomore, lofted the shot into the top of the net for a 1-0 lead with 17:01 showing on the clock. It was Frazer's 14th goal of the season and 29th in two seasons.

"We have a distinct size disadvantage with Washington because we always seem to have trouble matching up with them," Wagner said. "They put pressure on the ball so quickly, so it gets difficult to maintain constant possession. We changed to a 'drop and pop' in the second half.

"We want to drop the ball, pop it and try to hit the target in the front. (Frazer's goal) was an incredibly well-taken shot. Sam did a great job."

Washington nearly answered 2 minutes later.

The far-side referee whistled the Warriors for a foul inside the penalty area. Meredith Knox, who scored both goals in Monday's win at Aycock, attempted the penalty kick. However, Pritchett played the shot beautifully and easily stopped it for her sixth save of the game.

"Morgan guesses the right corner and gets down quickly," a smiling Wagner said. "That's a fantastic stop. Something like that would have turned the momentum around completely, given them the up there."

With just over 11 minutes remaining, the Warriors picked up an own goal. Taylor pushed the ball to the left side and fired a cross into the 6-yard box. A Pam Pack defender stepped in front of Frazer and the ball deflected off her heel into the net.

Washington (5-4-1, 3-3) never recovered.

Pritchett recorded seven saves on eight Pam Pack shots en route to the shutout.

Notes: Seniors April Vinson and Anne Archer were honored at halftime. ... The Warriors outshot the Pam Pack 10-7 and led 2-0 in corner kicks. ... Washington keeper Yates had two saves.