05/18/08 — NCISAA 1-A soccer semifinals: Chargers drop 2-1 decision

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NCISAA 1-A soccer semifinals: Chargers drop 2-1 decision

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 18, 2008 2:03 AM

WILSON -- Sweat- and grass-stained tape dotted the Wayne Country Day sideline as heart-broken players gathered their bags.

It was the lone remnant of a frustrating afternoon on the Gillette Soccer Complex pitch. The second-seeded Chargers couldn't find that second-half magic which had propelled them to three consecutive wins.

There was no recovery from this slow start.

Faith Christian-Rocky Mount punched in two first-half goals within a 13-minute span and held on for a 2-1, semifinal-round triumph in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A women's soccer playoffs.

However, the third-seeded Patriots (16-4-2 overall) lost to eighth-seeded Community Christian 2-1 on penalty kicks in the title clash Saturday afternoon.

Wayne Country Day, which was making its first semifinal appearance since 2005, concluded the year 13-4-2.

"We just didn't bring it," said Chargers head coach Baron Heinemann.

The teams split their regular-season series with each winning on their opponent's home field. The Patriots, however, controlled possession from the opening kickoff and pressured the Chargers' defense in the first five minutes.

WCDS keeper Ellen Elmore turned back two shots within a 60-second span and her teammates seemed to settle down. But the Chargers committed a costly defensive mistake in the 14th minute.

Faith Christian senior Mary Kate Watson, who earned the 1-A player of the year award, picked up a loose ball inside the 18-yard box. Unmarked by the Wayne Country Day defense, Watson dribbled and connected on the game's first goal.

It was Watson's 34th goal of the season.

"I didn't see the first goal so I really don't know what happened," said Heinemann. "She's a phenomenal player ... is fast with a great kick and is very accurate. I think our defense was a little bit too confident and they actually admitted it at halftime.

"They weren't doing the job they should have been doing."

The Patriots extended their lead around the 26-minute mark.

Watson gathered a loose ball in the midfield and drew a couple of Charger defenders. Watson found an open space, passed off to Kaitlin Blalock and she did the rest.

Blalock dribbled into the box toward the near post, which enticed Elmore to come off her line. Elmore (five saves) dove to stop the ball, but Blalock drilled a perfect, right-footed strike into the empty net.

"Something just didn't click with them today," said Heinemann. "It wasn't the defense we've seen (recently) and it wasn't the game we could play."

Eighth-grader Catherine Ford logged an unassisted goal 10 minutes into the second half, which cut the Patriots' advantage to 2-1. However, Wayne Country Day couldn't establish a steady offensive flow and Faith Christian added an extra defender to prevent further damage.

The Patriots improved to 9-0-2 in their last 11 games and won for the fourth time against the Chargers in their last five meetings.

It was the final game for WCDS seniors Caroline Lewis and Katie Hampton. Lewis earned all-state recognition along with teammate Shelle Anderson.

Heinemann expects to return 15 players, including 10 of 11 starters next season.