05/15/05 — NL falls in second round

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NL falls in second round

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 15, 2005 2:02 AM

LAGRANGE -- Oh-for-3.

Success has been limited for members of the Carolina/Eastern Plains women's soccer conference in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Classes 1-A/2-A playoffs this season. In fact, wins have been scarce since the latest league realignment four years ago.

Only one team -- North Lenoir -- has experienced victory in the postseason and that occurred one year ago. However, the Hawks couldn't duplicate the feat Friday evening and fell 4-2 to Raleigh Charter at Bullock Field.

"It was still a very good season," said third-year North Lenoir coach Dan Amodeo, whose team "three-peated" as C/EPC regular-season champions.

Still, those playoff wins -- frustratingly -- remain elusive. C/EPC teams are a combined 1-12 in the postseason since 2002 with a majority of the losses coming against the tradition- and talent-rich Coastal Plains Conference.

Now add a Raleigh-area team into the mix.

The visiting Phoenix (11-3-5) needed four minutes to make a defensive adjustment and roughly another 10 to get into an offensive rhythm. Coach John Kinney admitted he didn't research the Hawks, but did read online about Katie Maloney and Haley Bright -- the team's 1-2 punch.

"I read an online newspaper that said they had a couple of good forwards and that's all I knew," said Kinney. "The kids, they figured it out in about four minutes they had a couple of good forwards. They were stepping in pretty hard and disrupting our flow at the beginning.

"After we got adjusted to their timing of play, our midfield started controlling that."

Julie Dale and Sarah Jones took over at midfield once Raleigh Charter limited Maloney's and Bright's touches on the ball. The Phoenix duo consistently gained possession of loose balls on the first touch and organized the offense well from the back.

Kinney's team used the open space well and knocked balls through the Hawks' defense, which led to one-on-one opportunities. Raleigh Charter missed its first five shots on goal against keeper Febe Barazza, who collected two saves.

"That's the thing you start to see in the playoffs, especially facing teams from the Raleigh area and in the west," Amodeo said. "They're able to control the ball effectively and they were able to do that with very good success against us tonight.

"They had a person open all the time. It's not that we didn't run to the ball, it's just the way we play (defensively). We don't mark man on man, but at the same time you've got to get onto the person in your area."

The defensive lapse Amodeo mentioned led to the first Phoenix goal.

Camille Morgan picked up a loose ball outside the 18 and dribbled around one defender. She quickly struck a shot from the left side that floated over Barazza's out-stretched hands and into the net.

"The first goal kind of hurt a little bit," Amodeo said.

Especially since the Hawks (14-3) received few good looks at the goal before Morgan's score in the 28th minute. The Phoenix defense clogged the middle well and prevented North Lenoir from executing its patented give-and-go scheme that involved Maloney and Bright.

Denied a straight approach toward the goal all evening, Maloney created two offensive chances that nearly changed the game's momentum. Shot attempts in the 10th and 32nd minutes deflected off the crossbar.

Raleigh Charter tallied two quick goals in the final four minutes for a 3-0 lead at intermission. Donna Omile gathered a garbage shot that initially deflected off Barazza. Dale added a 30-foot floater from the left side with less than a minute remaining before intermission.

"The last two goals, especially the one that went through the hands, really put a damper on things," Amodeo said. "At this level of play, coming down from three goals is a tough feat. It's hard to do."

Maloney averted the Phoenix shutout with a penalty kick about 15 minutes into the second half. Teammate Lindsay Walton, a freshman, drew a hard foul inside the penalty area.

Raleigh Charter moved ahead 4-1 on Jenna Moehring's unassisted goal in the 71st minute. The Hawks' Rachel Sasser countered with a header from the left side with less than seven minutes to go.

Eight North Lenoir seniors participated in their final contest -- Vanessa Burge, Haley Johnson, Debbie Vandiford, Janis Ellison, Ashton Harper, Stephanie Nobles, Brittany Forrest and Julie Thomas. Forrest is attending Peace College in Raleigh next fall.