04/27/06 — Rosewood soccer keeps on rolling

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Rosewood soccer keeps on rolling

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 27, 2006 2:12 PM

North Johnston's senior class has never beaten Rosewood.

Two Eagle seniors made sure the trend continued on a miserably wet and breezy Wednesday evening at Branch Pope Field. Erin Thibodeau and Stephanie Behrend combined for two goals and two assists in a 3-0, Classes 1-A/2-A Carolina/Eastern Plains Conference women's soccer victory.

Rosewood (15-1, 7-1 C/EPC) clinched no worse than a No. 2 seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, which begin May 10. North Johnston (14-5-1, 4-4) must win its final two matches to secure the league's third remaining automatic bid.

Despite dealing the Panthers their third shutout in C/EPC play, Eagles head coach Eddie Maldonado had mixed reactions following the game. He was pleased to get the win, but not satisfied with the 80-minute effort overall.

"They probably had the ball on our half (of the field) 80 to 85 percent of the game," said Maldonado. "We got a couple of balls up to Erin and she can out-run them. We followed it up a couple of times and finished our opportunities.

"They didn't finish their opportunities."

North Johnston misfired on a first-half penalty kick, numerous free kicks and eight corner kicks. Eagle defenders Emily Farmer and Rachel McCormick helped keep Panther senior Jenna Gudac, a Mount Olive College recruit, scoreless on four shot attempts.

Rosewood goalie Molly Grantham saved two point-blank shots by Gudac, while a third shot sailed left of the post. Gudac couldn't convert the PK late in the opening half after drawing a foul in the penalty area.

Gudac entered the game with 42 goals this season and a school-record 131 for her career.

"If we shut down Jenna, it's difficult for them to score goals and we knew that," said Maldonado. "But we still have to get the ball in there and put some kind of pressure on them.

"Tonight was not a well-played game by us at all."

Even without consistent ball handling, Rosewood notched the game-winning goal about midway through the opening half.

Thibodeau, a quick-footed forward, received a pass from the injured Behrend and worked it through two North Johnston defenders toward the goal mouth. She finished off the play with a perfect left-footed strike toward the back post for the 1-0 lead.

North Johnston missed all five shot attempts in the opening half and finished with eight total shots on goal. The Panthers attempted seven corner kicks in the second half.

"We just didn't do set pieces well tonight," said Panthers coach Brent Walston. "They made Jenna take long touches and chased her down. We just didn't have anyone else stepping up with Jenna to help push toward the goal.

"Rosewood did what they had to do to win the game."

The Eagles tallied two second-half goals within about a five-minute span.

Thibodeau dribbled into the box, out-raced one defender toward goal and Panther keeper Allison Hinnant got both gloves on it. But Hinnant couldn't keep control and sophomore midfielder Hannah Pettus knocked it into the net.

"Allison made a great save on the second goal and just wasn't able to snuff it," said Walston. "We couldn't recover."

Behrend, who sustained a bruised sternum in Monday's game, collected the contest's final mark. Grantham booted a long goal kick toward midfield and Thibodeau immediately gained possession of the ball. She dribbled into the heart of the Panther defense and flicked a pass toward Behrend, who made a great run near the North Johnston sideline.

Behrend took the pass and rifled a goal-scoring shot toward the back post. Hinnant dived for the ball just as it skipped past her, and into the net.