10/03/06 — Gators blank Eagles

View Archive

Gators blank Eagles

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 3, 2006 2:07 PM

Rosewood dominated possession, but Spring Creek played solid defense and converted timely goals in its 3-0 victory Monday evening at Branch Pope Field.

Diego Rivera notched a goal in each half for the Gators, who improved to 7-1 overall and seized sole possession of the Class 1-A Carolina/Tar-Roanoke Conference lead at 3-0. The Eagles (6-4-1) dipped to 1-1 against league opposition.

"We did a really poor job on our attacking third of the field," said Rosewood coach Daniel Mitchell. "Once we got into the attacking third, we couldn't do anything with the ball. There was a lot of standing around, miscommunication going on.

"We just didn't look very good at all on that end (of the field). Every time we picked the ball up, Spring Creek was there and they did a pretty good job defensively."

Spring Creek posted its second shutout in C/T-RC play and fifth overall this season. The Gators have outscored their conference opponents 9-2 in 240 minutes of action.

"Our defense has been the key to us all year," said first-year Spring Creek coach Russell Stephens. "We've got experience guys in the back who know how to play and they get the ball out to our forwards.

"The last two games we've played, the home team has dominated the ball. When we've gotten our opportunities, we've been fortunate to make good shots."

The Gators erased the scoreless tie midway through the opening half.

The Eagles struggled to clear a ball inside the penalty area and Spring Creek midfielder Tre Mills got a wide-open look at the goal. Mills' shot deflected off the left post and landed at the feet of Rivera, who was open on the right side.

Rivera fired a perfect, low strike past the outstretched gloves of Rosewood keeper Will Grantham toward the far post. The Gators led 1-0.

Rosewood shut down Spring Creek the remainder of the half and kept Rivera bottled up for an early stretch in the second half. But a defensive breakdown allowed the Gators to claim a commanding two-goal lead in the 56th minute.

Rivera gained possession of the ball near midfield and surprisingly dribbled his way through the heart of the Eagle defense. Rosewood's defenders failed to mark the quick-footed midfielder, who collected his second goal - a right-footed shot that curled inside the left post.

"We were able to get behind them," said Stephens.

It was Rivera's 11th goal of the season.

Raul Fuentes concluded the Gators' scoring with a goal in the 74th minute. Like Rivera, Fuentes worked his way into the Eagle defense uncontested and easily scored on a right-footed shot toward the near post.

"That's something inexcusable if you want to keep yourself in the game and have a chance to win," said Mitchell said the team's defensive lapses. "You can't give people open runs to the goal."

Rosewood owned a 16-10 edge in shots on goal and attempted four corner kicks. Several shots sailed either wide or over the crossbar, while two hit the frame and bounced into the waiting arms of Spring Creek keeper Angel Sanchez.

The Eagles organized attacks better offensively in the second half and moved an injured Elliott Lee up top with midfielder Goss Kendall. Drew Kriger distributed the ball well from the midfield and the combinations worked better, but Rosewood still failed to finish its attack.

"We didn't do what we needed to do to find the back of the net," said Mitchell. "We didn't do enough to challenge the keeper."

Each team continues conference play at home Wednesday. Spring Creek welcomes Ayden-Grifton, while the Eagles entertain state-ranked North Johnston. The Panthers (8-3-2) are No. 8 in this week's N.C. Soccer Coaches Association 1-A poll.

"(The loss) makes the game against North Johnston even bigger now," said Mitchell. "We definitely don't want two in the 'L' column and neither does North Johnston. We're going to have to show a lot of improvement over the next two days if we want to be successful."

Notes: Rosewood K Grantham recorded six saves, while Sanchez had seven for Spring Creek. ... The teams combined for 29 fouls and seven yellow cards. ... The Gators' defensive backline cleared three balls that led to Eagle corner kicks. ... Rosewood's Kendall and Luis Hernandez combined to miss eight shots on goal.