05/11/06 — Rosewood girl's soccer makes history

View Archive

Rosewood girl's soccer makes history

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 11, 2006 2:17 PM

In the first round of last year's Classes 1-A/2-A N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, Franklinton's seven seniors were key in the Rams' 4-0 win over Rosewood.

On Wednesday, the Eagles' upper-classmen would not be denied and led Rosewood to its first-ever playoff win in girl's soccer.

Rosewood seniors Erin Thibodeau and Stephanie Behrend, the most prolific scoring/assist combination in Eagles' soccer history, combined for four goals in the first 20 minutes as the home team cruised to an 8-2 win over Franklinton at Branch Pope Field.

"This feels incredible, because we've never done this before," Behrend said. "We've really come together this year. We finally pulled it off and won one."

The win sends Rosewood (17-2), which had suffered at least five straight first-round losses, into a second-round contest on either Friday or Saturday at 2-A power Cardinal Gibbons (18-2-1).

"We've never won a playoff game before, so tomorrow at practice is going to be huge in getting them to understand that everybody is good from here on out," Rosewood coach Eddie Maldonado said. "We've got to be ready to go."

The Rams finished the season at 8-11-2 overall after claiming third place in the Tar Roanoke/Northern Carolina Conference.

Thibodeau finished with four goals and one assist on the game and tallied three goals in the first half. Behrend finished with a hat trick and two assists, while Mary Jo Moore added one goal and one assist.

Most of the Eagles' goals came on lengthy passes or runs through the middle of the Rams' defense as Franklinton never consistently contained Rosewood's speed up front.

To start arguably Rosewood's most impressive goal of the match, Moore played a drop-pass to Behrend near the top of the box. Behrend then side-stepped a defender to her right and knocked a pass through to Thibodeau, who tucked a shot into the back post to make it 4-0.

Efficiently, the Eagles scored on six of their eight shots in the first half and took a 6-1 lead into intermission.

"We had a really good practice yesterday," Thibodeau said. "We worked on some set plays, and all of them worked really good. We made history tonight ... we're proud of it."

By game's end, Rosewood outshot the visitors, 13-3.

With most of the game being played on the Eagles' offensive end of the field, the Rams rarely generated much of an offensive attack.

Down 5-0, Franklinton's Ashley Mikulski got behind Rosewood's defense on a long throw-in and scored from close range on senior goalie Molly Grantham. After Behrend's third goal made it 7-1, the Rams got their final goal when Samantha Rayman booted a long shot from the left wing over Grantham's head and into the net with 17:30 left.

Nine minutes later, Thibodeau tallied her fourth goal of the game and 55th of the season to push the score to 8-2.

"Erin and Stephanie are phenomenal players. You can double-mark them and they're still going to score," Franklinton coach Deran Coe said. "Kudos to coach Maldonado. His girls have come along way since last year."

Grantham finished with one save on the game but made several nice decisions to come off her line to grab loose balls. Fellow senior Kayce Brantham and junior Rachel McCormick also turned in solid efforts in the back for the Eagles.

All three playoff qualifiers from the Carolina/Eastern Plains Conference teams advanced out of the first round. North Johnston defeated Bunn, 4-3, also claiming the Panthers' first-ever playoff win in girl's soccer, while North Lenoir topped Cedar Ridge, 4-0.