04/06/07 — CPIC slugfest turns into defensive standstill

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CPIC slugfest turns into defensive standstill

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 6, 2007 1:47 PM

Forty-plus minutes of solid defense with a one-goal lead?

Wayne Country Day women's soccer coach Molly Morrow will take that to the bank any day.

The Chargers and archrival Greenfield combined for five goals in a 31-minute stretch and then battled to a defensive standstill on a breezy Thursday afternoon. Senior Georgia Crow's unassisted mark in the 31st minute proved the winning margin in a 3-2, Class 1-A Coastal Plains Independent Conference contest.

Wayne Country Day, ranked No. 2 among the state's N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A programs, improved to 8-2 overall and preserved its unblemished CPIC ledger at 3-0. The Chargers snapped the Knights' four-match win streak as Greenfield departed 4-2-1 overall in its CPIC opener.

"It was just another typical Wayne Country Day-Greenfield game ... always close," said Greenfield head coach Ben Forbes.

And intense from the opening whistle.

The two state-ranked teams pressured their opponent's respective goalie with two shots apiece on frame in the opening five minutes. The only difference was Greenfield struck first on Beth Hanson's goal off Azlyn Aycock's assist.

Hanson got behind the Chargers' back four and keeper Ellen Elmore, despite diving for the ball, couldn't stop it from rolling just inside the near post.

Morrow jumped off the bench and shouted for her team to "fix" the defensive error. But she also knew the one-goal deficit wouldn't last too long -- and it didn't.

Sophomore Virginia Best kindled the Chargers' offense by running onto a throw-in near the WCDS bench. Best crossed the ball to Crow through three Knight defenders and the senior forward blasted a right-footed shot past Greenfield keeper Sarah Moore into goal.

Less than 13 minutes in, the teams were tied at 1-1.

"It definitely wakes us up," said Morrow of yielding the first goal. "Sometimes we fall asleep a little bit and sometimes it takes the other team to react first. Then we strike back.

"And when we strike back, we strike hard."

Catherine Ford put the Chargers ahead 2-1 on a 25-yard, wind-aided shot that floated over Moore's outstretched hands and into goal.

Wayne Country Day, however, continued to struggle plugging up holes on its backline. The Knights' speed and organization out of the midfield caused concern.

Alex Hall's pass through the Charger defense bounced toward Hanson, who managed to slip past unmarked by a defender. Hanson drew Elmore off her line and ripped a game-tying shot inside the near post.

"I thought our forwards played an exceptional game and our passing was good," said Forbes. "It's hard to maintain that type of give and gos, and passing that we (normally) do on the 'postage stamp' (smaller WCDS field)."

Crow concluded the scoring in the 31st minute when Greenfield failed to clear the ball out of the penalty area. Crow stepped in front of a Knight defender and blasted her game-winning shot off Moore's gloves into the goal.

Forbes took Moore out and replaced her with Lori Lawrence, who provided 48-plus minutes of shutout action.

Greenfield appeared to tally the equalizer with about six minutes left before halftime, but Hanson was called offsides on an apparent breakaway. Forbes argued the call to no avail and contended Hanson was onsides the entire play.

"I think a tie would have been a legitimate reflection of how the two teams played," said Forbes. "They're as good a team as we've played (this season), and we've played very well.

"They are a more physical team than us and ran through the ball a little better than we did the whole game, especially in the first half. The second half we picked up our game a little bit, but when you're in the hole and you're trying to come from behind, it's a tough thing."

But the Chargers refused to relinquish their one-goal advantage.

Mack Thompson and Elmore became a little more vocal in directing the defense in the second half. Caroline Lewis closely marked Hanson and allowed her just one shot on goal in the second half.

Elmore notched seven of her game-high 10 saves in the second half and withstood a furious Greenfield rally in the final six minutes.

"The defense couldn't position themselves probably the way they needed to (in the first half)," said Morrow. "The second half, our defense definitely made a difference and sometimes our forwards forget they have to play defense, too. They saw how important it was today.

"They have to learn to open their mouths and talk to each other. Without communication, they run into little problems and that's when easy scores can get scored."

Best played just five of the remaining 15 minutes of regulation after exiting with cramps. Crow headed to the bench with about 13 minutes to go after sustaining a left-knee injury. The Barton College signee said she heard something pop.

Crow watched with from the bench as the Chargers remained unbeaten in five home matches this season.

Greenfield 2 0 -- 0

W. Country Day 3 0 -- 0

First half

G -- Hanson (Aycock assist), 6:56

WCDS -- Crown (Best assist), 12:15

WCDS -- Ford (unassisted), 18:42

G -- Hanson (Hall assist), 22:56

WCDS -- Crow (unassisted), 30:56

Shots on goal -- WCDS 12, Greenfield 16. Corner kicks -- WCDS 1, Greenfield 4. Fouls -- WCDS 9, Greenfield 9. Offsides -- Greenfield 2. Saves -- WCDS (Elmore 10), Greenfield (Moore, Lawrence 5).

Records: WCDS 8-2, 3-0 Coastal Plains Independent Conference; Greenfield 4-2-1, 0-1.