05/11/05 — Soccer playoffs set to begin

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Soccer playoffs set to begin

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 11, 2005 2:06 PM

Five area soccer teams will look to improve on solid regular-season performances when the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs begin Wednesday.

Charles B. Aycock opened the Class 3-A playoffs on Tuesday at West Johnston and dropped a 2-1 decision to the Wildcats.

North Lenoir (14-2 overall) captured its third-straight Classes 1-A/2-A Carolina/EasternPlains Conference title. The Hawks, who advanced to the third round last season, earned a first-round bye after posting a 9-1 league mark.

Midfielder Katie Maloney has paced North Lenoir with a solid junior campaign -- scoring 29 goals and dishing out eight assists. Haley Bright, a forward, has 20 goals and 20 assists. Seventeen different Hawks have scored goals as they have outscored their opponents a whopping, 84-9.

North Lenoir goalie Febe Barraza has posted 10 shutouts.

"With our returning experience and the addition of our freshmen class, I expect that we will make it to the fourth round and possibly further," North Lenoir coach Dan Amodeo said. "If we can get on a roll and keep home field advantage, there is no telling how far we can get.

"Obviously our goal is to make it to and win the championship game."

Staying in the EPC/Carolina, Rosewood earned the conference's second playoff spot and will open the postseason at home on Wednesday against Franklinton -- the third seed from the Northern Carolina/Tar-Roanoke.

Junior's Erin Thibodeau and Stephanie Behrend again have paced the Eagles this season up front. Thibodeau, who tallied her 100th goal of her career this season, has 21 goals as Behrend booted in 20. Behrend also has 17 assists, while Thibodeau has 12.

Molly Grantham and the Eagle defense has turned in seven shutouts. Coach Eddie Maldonado has been especially pleased with the defensive efforts of Kandis Weeks and Emily Farmer.

"Our only senior starter is Kandis Weeks, our sweeper. She has done a great job of leading the defense, keeping everything tight in the back and filling any holes in the back," Maldonado said. "Emily Farmer, a sophomore marking back, is the one defender that we rely on to mark the opposing teams best forward and she has done a great job for us this year."

North Johnston claimed the league's third spot and will make the 150-mile trip to South Brunswick in Southport. For the second straight year, the Panthers have set a school record for wins in a season. This year North Johnston posted seven shutouts and outscored its opponents 69-26.

Jenna Gudac scored over half of her team's total with 39 goals, while dishing out six helpers. Haley Newsome has contributed 13 goals as Heather Creech added 10 assists.

"We knew we were capable of being good at the beginning of the season. We also knew we would have some good battles," Panther coach Brent Walston said. "We are capable of playing well. We hope we can play well against South Brunswick ... as long as the long bus ride doesn't hurt us."

Switching to the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference, Eastern Wayne finished in second place at 8-2 with its only league-losses coming to conference champion West Carteret. The Warriors outscored their conference opposition 36-11.

The Warriors (9-5-1 overall) have been to the playoffs before under coach Jorg Wagner, but this is their first-ever home game in the postseason. Eastern Wayne faces Harnett Central, the third seed from the Big Eight South, in New Hope on Wednesday.

The sophomore forward duo of Samantha Frazer and Natalie Taylor have combined for 27 goals and 15 assists. Frazer finished with 15 goals and eight assists, while Taylor had 12 goals and seven assists. Carol Reinier (sophomore) and Morgan Pritchett (junior) have combined for five shutouts in goal.

Wagner points to a double-overtime win at third-place Washington as a key match for his team with just three seniors.

"We were behind early, tied up the match with two minutes to go, and won it with two minutes to go in overtime," Wagner said. "After that, we gained the confidence to play hard to the final whistle and trust our fitness and tactical understanding to carry us through pressure situations.

"For a team as young as ours, that is a great accomplishment."

Another young team, Charles B. Aycock, took fourth in the ECC with a 4-6 mark. The Golden Falcons were 7-10-3 overall and traveled to Benson to face West Johnston today in the first round.

Amanda Schlaeppi finished with 15 goals as Lizzie Sodoma notched 13 goals. Goalie Emily Stewart and the CBA defense finished the season with five shutouts.

The Falcons have just four seniors and had a handful of potential-returning players, which decided not to participate before the season. Coach John Fidler is proud of his young teams ability to compete and often battle neck-and-neck with the league's top-tier teams.

"We've just been trying to stress getting better with this team," Fidler said. "Now, we hope we can go make a good showing in the playoffs to prove we are better than what our record shows."