03/23/06 — EW blanks Hunt

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EW blanks Hunt

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 23, 2006 1:47 PM

A murderous non-conference schedule -- and lopsided losses -- against perennial powerhouses on the Class 3-A and 2-A levels hasn't discouraged the Eastern Wayne women's soccer team.

While those disheartening results could have dampened the spirit of any team, the Warriors have used those defeats as valuable learning tools instead. Eastern Carolina Conference opponents have certainly experienced Eastern Wayne's frustration and suffered the consequences this week.

A solid first-half offensive performance and stout, second-half defensive play translated to a 4-0 victory over Wilson Hunt at Little Big Horn on Wednesday evening. Natalie Taylor collected two goals and provided an assist for Eastern Wayne, which captured its first home win of the season and improved to 2-6-1 overall. Sophomore goalie Brittany Spence notched four saves and earned her second consecutive shutout in conference play.

Hunt, a league newcomer, departed 3-5-1 overall and 1-1 in the league.

"A good result," said veteran Eastern Wayne coach Jörg Wagner.

The Warriors entered ECC play 0-6-1 after losses against eastern heavyweights Wilson Fike, Jacksonville, White Oak and North Lenoir. Wagner's squad tallied just five goals during that stretch and endured three shutouts, including a scoreless tie against North Lenoir.

Wagner's team refused to pack up their gear.

Taylor posted a hat trick (three goals) in Eastern Wayne's conference opener at Southern Wayne. Three teammates recorded one goal each in a contest halted at halftime due to inclement weather.

Expecting a stiffer challenge against Hunt, the Warriors played a steady first half and refused to let the visitors disrupt their offense. Wagner's team organized well from the back and created scoring opportunities for Taylor, and sophomore Samantha Frazer.

Frazer and Taylor hooked up for the first goal in the 16th minute. Sophomore Kelsey Griffith ignited the scoring play with a throw-in toward Taylor from the right side. Taylor dribbled past one defender and served the ball through the Hunt defense toward Frazer, who found some shooting space in the middle of the penalty box.

Frazer took the pass and fired a perfect, low strike to the back post for a 1-0 lead.

Taylor and Kasie Edwards each added a goal within eight minutes of each other later in the first half. Each cleaned up "garbage" shots which deflected off Hunt keeper Monica Campbell.

"We were very opportunistic in the first half," said Wagner. "We saw, in the second half, the Hunt team we expected to face. They had nice looks and just couldn't convert them. The difference overall was we made our shots."

Eastern Wayne also weathered a strong Hunt attack in the second half.

Spence had two brilliant saves against junior Alex Calvert, and senior Jen Bircher smartly directed the defense from her sweeper position. Bircher cleared several loose balls that prevented Hunt from building any consistent attack.

"We started winning some 50-50 balls and things started opening up," said Hunt coach Scott Wofford, whose team took 12 shots on goal, including nine in the second half. "We proved that we could move the ball."

Hunt missed four shots that bounced just wide of the post and Calvert misfired on a penalty kick attempt in the 52nd minute.

Wagner observed his team's fitness level began dropping in the second half. The Warriors played more of a defensive game and generated just four shots on goal compared to 12 attempts in the first half.

"Hunt was certainly strong, if not stronger, than we were in the second half," said Wagner. "They beat us to some loose balls and created problems. Bircher and Spence made some incredible plays to save us."