11/10/05 — Wild card Cardinals eliminate Warriors

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Wild card Cardinals eliminate Warriors

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 10, 2005 2:08 PM

Disruption and domination.

No matter where an Eastern Wayne player maneuvered the ball Wednesday evening, a Jacksonville defender stepped into the passing lane and quickly disorganized the Warriors' attack.

The constant interruptions flustered Eastern Wayne and led to numerous turnovers near midfield. The Cardinals capitalized on those miscues, collected an early goal and cruised to a 5-0 victory at Little Big Horn.

Jacksonville, a wild-card entry in the 16-team eastern bracket, opposes city rival White Oak for the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern regional title. White Oak recorded its second straight postseason shutout with a victory over Rocky Mount Senior High.

Eastern Wayne, a semifinalist last season, concluded the year 12-7-2.

"I thought we came out not quite confident enough ... didn't have the individuals who wanted to step up and take responsibility," said Warriors coach Jörg Wagner. "Once you get into a little bit of a hole, it doesn't get any easier. It was just very difficult to play against Jacksonville tonight."

The Cardinals (13-7-1) possessed little knowledge about the Warriors, the number three team from the Eastern Carolina Conference. Jacksonville coach Dave Miller learned from a few sources that senior Andrew Corley and junior Erik Rivera had emerged as Eastern Wayne's top goal threats this season.

Rivera never attempted a shot on goal and Corley misfired on his lone shot in the opening half. Cardinal keeper Ross Willard notched one second-half save and earned a shutout over the Warriors, who were held scoreless for the first time this season.

"(Defending) has been our strength all year," said Miller, whose team owned a decisive 20-5 edge in shots on goal. "Someone I talked to this weekend told me that No. 23 (Rivera) had a great left-footed shot and I told my kids not to let him go to his left.

"We wanted to force him to give it up and the kids did a great job of doing that."

While Eastern Wayne struggled to generate any offense, Jacksonville moved the ball with ease throughout the opening half. Using their speed and pushing the ball to central midfield, the Cardinals peppered Warrior goalie Vincent Hagedorn in the first 10 minutes.

Senior midfielder Hunter McNamara collected the game-winning goal eight minutes into the contest. Hagedorn came off his line and no Eastern Wayne defender dropped back to protect the goal. McNamara quickly connected on a shot into the open goal.

A handball infraction in the penalty area led to Jacksonville's second goal. Sophomore Adam Cunningham, who posted a hat trick (three goals) Saturday evening at Charles B. Aycock, converted a low shot inside the near post for the 2-0 advantage.

"We turned it over quite a bit and you have to deal with counter attacks," said Wagner.

Eastern Wayne, now 4-2 in postseason play over the past two years, never gave up its attempt in building attacks in the second half. But the Cardinals intercepted passes, won balls in the air and played a physical style the Warriors couldn't match.

"I had heard that they had come back from a couple of two-goal deficits, so I told the kids that we couldn't let up," said Miller.

Cunningham and McNamara, who added an assist, each tallied a second-half goal within a nine-minute stretch. Sophomore forward Tyler Sosa concluded the scoring with an assist from Jeremy Cross in the 66th minute.

Ten Warriors played their final game.

Wagner praised the effort of Chris Brown, who served as the team captain and constantly organized attacks from the back. Injuries sidelined Corley and fellow senior Jin Lee (broken foot). Also playing their final game were Joey Bero, Vincent Gambella, Sean Worrell, Eric Bourgeois, Jace Muehlenthaler, Justin Smith and Adam Corley.

"The seniors have carried the load in practice and carried the load in the game," said Wagner, who had at least eight seniors in the starting lineup each outing. "They understand what we're trying to do and the players the younger kids look up to. They're the ones who are expected to lead through example.

"This is our goal ... to make it to the third round each year. Anything less we would consider disappointing. It's disappointing how we played today, but the result is OK."