05/04/06 — Falcons upset Warriors for ECC title

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Falcons upset Warriors for ECC title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 4, 2006 2:13 PM

John Fidler has field maintenance duties early next week.

The Charles B. Aycock women's soccer coach will cut the grass and the paint the lines one more time in preparation for a home playoff contest. And he doesn't mind one bit.

Lizzie Sodoma and Rebekka Katko, once again, helped the Golden Falcons pull off another stunning upset in the inaugural Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference women's soccer tournament Wednesday evening. Katko notched the game-winning goal in the 52nd minute and C.B. Aycock prevailed 2-1 over Eastern Wayne at Little Big Horn.

The Golden Falcons (8-11-2) seized their third consecutive victory and claimed the No. 2 seed overall for the upcoming N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. Fidler's team will play host to the NEW Athletic 6 Conference runner-up next Wednesday.

Wilson Hunt fell to the No. 3 slot.

"Our girls have finally started playing the last week," said Fidler. "I don't know what it was and what they've been waiting on. I just can't be more happy for them."

Battered and bruised, the Golden Falcons gave the top-seeded Warriors their best shot for 80 minutes in an intense and physical contest. Aycock constantly challenged for loose balls and created play well out of the midfield.

The defense prevented Eastern Wayne's top two strikers -- Natalie Taylor and Samantha Frazer -- from getting open looks on goal. The duo made several good runs down the line off throw-ins, but couldn't finish off the play.

The Warriors outshot Aycock 28-8 and owned an 8-3 edge in corner kicks.

"I thought we had plenty of opportunities to tie the game or win the game, maybe even go to overtime," said Eastern Wayne coach Jörg Wagner, whose team swept the regular-season series against its county rival. "It was a well-played game where we certainly had a good amount of chances (to score).

"But that's the way it goes sometimes. Not necessarily the team with the most chances is going to win the game."

Sodoma erased the scoreless tie in the third minute.

The Warrior defense struggled to clear a ball in the penalty area and keeper Brittany Spence slipped when she tried to change direction to defend the near post. Sodoma found a small seam between Spence and the post for the 1-0 advantage.

Eastern Wayne (10-9-1) didn't falter and stayed within the flow of the game. Senior Deniz Alemdar pushed a few balls upfield to Frazer and Taylor, who created scoring opportunities with crosses into the penalty area.

Aycock's defense managed to clear those possessions, but Eastern Wayne kept charging.

Warrior junior Carol Reinier just missed a header to the back post off a corner kick in the 16th minute. She later misfired another header off Frazer's free kick from just outside the 18. Junior Kasie Edwards nearly converted a pass from Taylor inside the penalty area in the 30th minute.

"Eastern Wayne kept coming the whole time ... were aggressive," said Fidler. "They're a very explosive team."

Frazer and Taylor got open for potential breakaway goals 10 minutes into the second half. Aycock keeper Emily Stewart thwarted both chances and got a little confidence boost from Katko a minute or two later.

Officials whistled Eastern Wayne for a foul about 30 yards off the goal. Katko set up the free kick and lofted a long ball toward the goal. Prince stayed on her line, but couldn't stop the ball from settling into the net near the back post.

"The first goal was unfortunate," said Wagner. "I talked to Brittany and she said the ball got caught in the sun, and she changed direction ... lost her footing. That happens.

"The second goal was well taken, but should normally be a routine ball."

Aycock continued to defend well. Stewart blocked every shot on goal and organized the team on goal-kick situations.

"When we had a two-goal lead, I was more comfortable," said Stewart, who had 13 saves.

But the Warriors weren't through. They increased their intensity level and constantly stepped into open spaces to disrupt the Golden Falcons' offensive movement.

Taylor exited with cramps and Wagner moved junior Tija Riley up top to give support to Frazer and Alemdar. The trio, along with Reinier and Edwards, kept possession on Aycock's side of the field for the final seven-plus minutes of regulation play.

Riley finally broke through on a pass from Edwards and notched her first goal of the season in the 75th minute. Stewart stopped two shots after that and Frazer just missed converting a free kick in stoppage time.

"When they made that goal, I was a little mad at myself, but still comfortable with that one-goal lead," said Stewart. "There wasn't that much time (left). Eastern Wayne is a good team and you can't discredit anything they do.

"They kept a run going and I was just trying to stay intense."

The nail-biting victory allowed the Golden Falcons to complete the tournament-title sweep. Aycock's boys emerged the ECC regular-season and tournament champions in the fall.

"Aycock played a good game and their players were motivated," said Wagner. "They wanted to come out of the season with something more than a third seed in the playoffs. Overall, this was great for Wayne County soccer to have our two teams in the final and play in Wayne County for the conference (championship).

"Congratulations to them."