03/09/06 — Prep soccer - NL tops Warriors

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Prep soccer - NL tops Warriors

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on March 9, 2006 2:33 PM

LaGRANGE -- North Lenoir's girls soccer team capitalized on nearly every scoring chance they had in the first half as a 3-2 halftime lead over Eastern Wayne stood as the final score on a chilly evening in Wheat Swamp.

The Hawks, the three-time defending Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference champions, improved to 5-0 on the season under first-year coach Sara Pittelkau.

"The experience pays off. They know how to respond to pressure on the field and know how to get the job done," North Lenoir coach Sara Pittelkau said. "I'm really impressed with this team, especially the seniors."

The Warriors, who jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the early minutes, slipped to 0-4 on the season.

Junior forward Natalie Taylor got Eastern Wayne on the board within minutes of the opening kickoff -- scoring on an assist from senior Crystal Lemmon.

Quickly, North Lenoir took advantage of a misplayed ball in the box by the Warrior defense and Lindsay Walton knocked a left-footed shot past Eastern Wayne goalie Brittany Spence to equalize, five minutes into the game.

Nine minutes later, senior midfielder Katie Maloney found fellow senior Haley Bright unmarked in the middle of the Warrior defense as Bright received the pass, took a dribble and scored to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.

The Warriors controlled the possession for most of the first half and after several deep attacks, finally equalized when Kasie Edwards tallied her team's final goal midway through the first half on a follow shot from close range.

On just their fourth deep possession, North Lenoir took the lead for good when Maloney found a spot in the middle of the defense, then took a pass out of the air from the midfield and booted home the game's final goal.

"She's (Maloney) a fantastic player that controls the midfield," Eastern Wayne coach Jörg Wagner said. "We had three fatal blunders defensively, and that's disappointing because we've worked on limiting those things the last three practices."

The second half proved to be a defensive struggle, but both squads had a handful of opportunities.

Eastern Wayne's forwards, Taylor and Samantha Frazer had several deep runs but were often well-marked by North Lenoir defenders; Jordan Hudson, Ashley Fillippeli and Casey Harrison.

In the waning seconds, the Warriors got one final corner kick and Tija Riley put a shot on the North Lenoir goal, but Hudson, a freshman, was in position on the goal line to boot the ball out as the final whistle sounded.

"A bunch of the older girls have been playing travel soccer with both Jordan and Sasha (Holeman) for a couple of years now," Maloney said. "They've come in this year and really filled in their roles on this team."

Spence had several impressive saves for Eastern Wayne, including a sliding stop in a one-on-one situation with Maloney with eight minutes left in the second half.

Eastern Wayne was led defensively by Jennifer Bircher, Samantha Roth and Presley Garrison.

The Warriors return to action on Friday at home against perennial 3-A power, Jacksonville White Oak. The Hawks host Charles B. Aycock on Monday.

"We look about the same as we did last year, we've just got to put some things together," Wagner said. "It's good to have your mistakes shown to you early in the year, we're not gaining any confidence. Hopefully, we can go back out and get a win before confidence, because I think we're down a little bit now."