05/14/06 — North Lenoir ousted from 1-A/2-A playoffs

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North Lenoir ousted from 1-A/2-A playoffs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 14, 2006 2:17 AM

LaGRANGE -- Visibly tired and physically worn down, North Lenoir couldn't pull off a second miraculous comeback in overtime Friday evening against Raleigh Charter.

The Hawks rallied from a two-goal deficit late in regulation and held on to force the two 10-minute OT sessions. But the Phoenix responded with two goals in a two-minute span and upset the Hawks 6-4 in their N.C. High School Athletic Association Classes 1-A/2-A second-round playoff contest.

North Lenoir suffered its first loss of the season and concluded the year 22-1-1 overall. Raleigh Charter, which ousted the Hawks in the same round last season, rose to 16-4-2 overall.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the North Lenoir coaching staff decided to add a third forward -- freshman Jordan Hudson -- to create more offensive opportunities on goal. The Hawks seemed half a step slow in the opening 40 minutes and Phoenix defenders easily intercepted passes, and directed them back downfield toward the North Lenoir goal.

The change worked.

Hudson's speed bothered Raleigh Charter's defensive back line and she broke through twice for shots on frame. Her third attempt found the mark and trimmed the Phoenix's lead to 2-1.

"She is blistering fast and gave us a big fit," said Phoenix coach John Kinney. "She is as fast as any of our defenders. We finally figured out a double-team rotation that worked, so we got hold of her."

Sophomore Meghan McCann neutralized Hudson's score with an unassisted goal of her own to give Raleigh Charter a 3-1 lead. Outside back Allison Creech and center defender Abby Fulp kept Hudson contained, until she got loose again around the 71st minute.

Hudson charged onto a free ball and drew a hard foul inside the penalty box. Senior Katie Maloney easily converted the penalty kick and trimmed the Phoenix's advantage to 3-2.

"The girls were playing well, but we needed a little more speed (up front)," said first-year North Lenoir coach Sara Pittlekau. "Those 11 girls out there played as one. Getting that one goal gave us a little confidence ... let us know we can score."

North Lenoir notched the game-tying goal around the 74th minute. Freshman Sasha Holeman directed a beautiful cross from the right side to Hudson, who headed it in for her seventh goal of the season.

Raleigh Charter, of the 1-A/2-A Mid-State Conference, missed two shots on frame in the closing five minutes.

Phoenix senior Julie Dale, junior Christine McGrath and sophomore Camille Morgan each scored in overtime.

Maloney, a senior, added the Hawks' final goal -- her 43rd of the season -- in the second OT.

Note: The Hawk seniors -- Maloney, goalie Febe Barraza, Haley Bright, Madison Gray, Ruthanne Hardy and Rachel Sasser led the program to an incredible 64-10-5 record during their four-year careers.