04/28/05 — Sweet soccer revenge for Hawks

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Sweet soccer revenge for Hawks

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 28, 2005 1:55 PM

LAGRANGE -- Turnabout is fair play.

Sweet revenge.


Any of these phrases fittingly describe North Lenoir's performance in its second meeting against Classes 1-A/2-A Carolina/Eastern Plains women's soccer nemesis North Johnston on Wednesday evening. The Hawks seized the initial goal midway through the first half and never lost momentum in a 4-0 victory at Bullock Field.

North Lenoir, the two-time defending C/EPC champion, claimed sole possession of the league lead at 7-1. The Panthers fell into a second-place tie with Rosewood at 6-2.

"We came out prepared today and wanted it bad," said junior Katie Maloney, who collected two goals. "We knew this was (probably) the game for the conference championship. We played hard."

When the teams met April 11 in Kenly, the Panthers controlled the tempo and the Hawks appeared a step slow on the thick, grassy pitch. However, on a flat field, the Hawks dominated possession and constantly pressured North Johnston defensively.

The Panthers seemed to have no counter for Maloney and forward Haley Bright, who scored 23 seconds into the second half. Despite constantly facing two defenders each time they touched the ball, the duo combined for 16 of the Hawks' 18 shots on goal.

"We had trouble marking 22 (Maloney) and four (Bright) all night," said second-year North Johnston coach Brent Walston. "We let some things get into our heads and we played with our heads down a lot. Maybe that's my fault.

"They deserved to win. They played better tonight."

North Johnston (11-3-1) failed to score for just the second time this season. Junior forward Jenna Gudac, the conference's top goal scorer with 30, misfired on four shot attempts -- undoubtedly one of her lowest offensive efforts of the season.

The Hawks closely marked Gudac throughout the contest and did an exceptional job of executing the offsides trap, which prevented Gudac from breaking free in one-on-one situations. Officials whistled the Panthers for five offsides violations, including four in the second half.

"In the first game, she beat us with two great shots," Hawks coach Dan Amodeo said. "She is a great player and we tried to mark her one-on-one in the first game, and that just didn't work out. We decided to play our regular defense.

"If she beats us, she beats us."

North Lenoir keeper Febe Barraza recorded six saves and earned her seventh shutout in goal this season. It was her fourth in C/EPC play.

Each team missed its first four shots on goal. Maloney hit the near post once and curled another shot just inches short of the far post. Freshman Haley Newsome, the Panthers' second-leading goal scorer with nine, and junior Ashby Brame combined to miss four shots.

Maloney broke the scoreless tie in the 21st minute.

Senior right wing Brittany Forrest launched a corner kick from the right side to Maloney, who was just outside the 18-yard box. Maloney settled the pass, pushed it the ball to her right, turned and fired a perfect left-footed strike to the near post.

Panther goalie Allison Hinnant, screened by a teammate on the play, watched it roll to the back of the net.

"Starting off with a goal helped us get in our groove and get some confidence," said Maloney.

Amodeo admitted he liked the one-goal lead at halftime, but felt his team could play better. He stressed ball movement, spacing and connecting passes at halftime and the Hawks executed it to near perfection in the second half.

Bright posted her 16th goal of the season in the first half minute. Maloney added her second goal, and 23rd of the year, on a left-footed free kick from 30 yards out.

"I was aiming for the goal, but not exactly sure where," said a grinning Maloney, who has scored in 13 of the Hawks' 14 matches this season. "(Those two goals) put them away, got them down and picked us up. It put us on a high."

Walston agreed the early second-half strikes hurt his team. He quickly added that his team didn't play its best game and wished it could have played better.

Junior right wing Madison Gray finished off the Panthers with her first-ever goal in the 75th minute. Gray became the 15th different Hawk to tally at least one goal this season.

North Lenoir (12-2) gained the inside track to the regular-season title and an opening-round bye in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A/2-A playoffs. The league's No. 2 team gets a first-round game, but travels to the North State champion if it wins.

Notes: North Lenoir outshot North Johnston 18-11 and led 6-4 in corner kicks. ... The Hawks' all-time C/EPC record is 33-9 since 2002. ... North Lenoir is 7-1 at home this season and has outscored the opposition 71-9 in 14 matches.